More than 90 people were treated for fireworks-related injuries — including an amputated hand and 40 percent burns over a patient’s body — at Kansas City-area hospitals this July Fourth holiday.
HCA Midwest treated more than 55 fireworks-related injuries, according to Christine Hamele, a spokeswoman for the health system.
In six of those cases, patients were admitted to the Grossman Burn Center at Research Medical Center. The most common injuries were to the hand and eye. The injured included 10 children.
The most severe injury was an amputation of a hand, Hamele said.
As of noon Wednesday, Children’s Mercy had treated 21 patients for fireworks injuries. Two of the victims had to be admitted. One had a hand injury after using a roman candle, and the other was injured on the arm by a firework, according to Lisa Augustine, media relations manager for the hospital.
Liberty Hospital had two female patients and one male patient checked for fireworks-related injuries, according to Julie Simpson, director of marking and public relations for the hospital.
The injuries included first- and second-degree burns to a leg with multiple abrasions after a firework tipped over; burns and lacerations to fingers when a firecracker exploded in a hand, and second-degree burns to a hand when a fountain firework went off in the hand.
Fewer patients were treated for fireworks-related injuries than in past years at the University of Kansas Health System’s Burnett Burn Center, according to figures released Wednesday.
The burn center said it treated 15 patients with fireworks injuries between 1:30 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. Wednesday — the lowest number in the past eight years.
“The numbers this year, we saw a little less folks, but it’s still a significant amount,” said James Howard, one of the medical directors with the Burnett Burn Center. “It’s still a busy time of year for us.”
The burn center typically sees between 300 and 400 patients each year. So 15 patients in four-day period is a high percentage, he said.
Fireworks still pose a threat to folks — mortars, sparklers and other fireworks can cause significant injuries, Howard said.
The vast majority of the patients the burn center saw this year were male. The age of the patients ranged from 17 months to 60 years old.
A third of the injuries were caused by mortars. Sparklers, at 20 percent, caused the second most injuries.
The most common injuries were to the hands and face. Of the face injuries, three out of five were direct injuries to the eye. The most severe injury was a burn over 40 percent of a patient’s body.
The good news was that no fingers were amputated this year at the Burnett Burn Center. Last year, there were five, according to the center.
While Howard said he hopes outreach and education efforts helped prevent injuries this year, he believes rain over the holiday period might have slowed down the number of people shooting off their own fireworks.
The fact the holiday fell in the middle of the week and not on a weekend may have played a factor, too.
Howard expects more people to come forward in the next day or two to seek treatment for burns or injuries caused by fireworks. Those people typically are the ones who were injured and tried to tough it out but later decide to seek treatment.
People should seek medical attention if they had burns to the hands or face, or if their burn starts blistering or crosses a joint. Also, if the burn doesn’t hurt, it could be a warning sign of a significant injury.
The common theme is that the injuries are always unexpected and accidental — the fuse went off too fast, the injured person didn’t get away quick enough, somebody shot it in the direction of the person injured.
“You can think you’re going to be as safe as possible, but there still remains a significant danger and damage that can be done by a firework or firecracker,” Howard said.
For those who have unused fireworks, Howard suggests that people dispose of them properly.
“I never advocate lighting fireworks,” Howard said. “I think the best thing you can do is leave it up to the professionals and enjoy fireworks from a safe distance.”
Saint Luke’s Health System said that none of its hospitals saw any fireworks-related injuries over the course of the holiday.