Injuries resulting from the misuse of nail guns, forklifts, power tools and children's toys are among the bizarre misadventures that have kept staff at Palmerston North Hospital's emergency department busy.
Among the 39,500 patients who visited the emergency department in the past year were those suffering from a case of drunken bravado, fascination with fire, or a penchant for inserting objects into their bodies, information released under the Official Information Act shows.
"When you've been working in [the emergency department] so long, you don't get surprised by anything, any more," MidCentral Health hospital services manager Iona Bichan said.
Not even the 380 patients in the past year who turned up needing help with "foreign bodies" inserted into their ears or other orifices.
Emergency department records noted that tossing accelerants on fires was "still a common practice", accounting for several patients among the 178 burns cases seen in the year to July.
"Why do people do that? I don't know. It is a bit of mystery - particularly with younger men and, actually, old men too, throwing accelerants and fireworks into fires - they just can't seem to help themselves."
Close encounters between humans and livestock also kept hospital staff busy, said operations manager Lyn Horgan.
"Anecdotally, several patients a year are treated for injuries from stock - such as being crushed against a fence by a cow or knee injuries from being run into by a sheep. There are also occasions where people have hit stock on roads, although staff say this happens here less often than it used to."
Ms Bichan said the regular Friday night influx of injured and abusive drunks was a constant struggle for emergency staff working with a limited number of hospital beds.
"A lot of it is to do with people who are drunk and they don't realise [they're hurt] until the next day.
"We've had people come in with a broken leg after a night out . . . people not wearing enough clothes coming in with hypothermia. Often they have bumped their head falling off something they've climbed up or tried to jump off something much too tall for them," she said.
"I know the nurses and doctors here do try to give everybody the same level of care but when they have a little old lady in the next cubicle with a broken hip, it's distressing."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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