'Tis the season for injuring ourselves

New Year is a dangerous time but Christmas is fast catching up in terms of the damage we do to ourselves, ACC figures show.

A combination of new toys and too much Christmas cheer have resulted in Christmas injury numbers almost doubling in 10 years.

The top 10 categories of injuries in 2003 accounted for 1795 injuries between them. Those numbers have risen steadily and Christmas 2011 had 2983 injury claims in its top 10 categories.

The bulk of the injuries are consistently for "loss of balance/personal control" which accounts for about a third of all claims. Even more dangerous is Boxing Day, where "loss of balance/personal control" rises about 20 per cent on the previous day.

New Year's injury statistics are, perhaps not surprisingly, much worse, though they have remained fairly stable compared with the rocketing Christmas numbers.

"Loss of personal control" is consistently the most-claimed-for category on both New Year's Eve and New Year's Day but it's the second category that tells the story.

Over the past 10 New Year's Eves, the second-placed category has been shared between lifting/carrying strains, collision/knocked over by object, struck by person or animal or slipping over.

On New Year's Day "struck by person or object" is consistently the second-most-claimed injury.

Auckland City Hospital emergency department clinical director Anil Nair said the cause was clear. "We get many drug and alcohol-related injuries."

Nair said his staff treated 145 people this Christmas and 163 on Boxing Day.

New Year's Eve would be similarly busy with alcohol-related complaints - mainly too much alcohol or people who fell over while drunk.

East Care after-hours surgery nurse manager Margaret Henderson said her clinic did not get the heavily intoxicated people that hospital emergency departments see, but they did get their fair share of Christmas injuries.

Scooters, bikes and trampolines were the usual culprits for children, while over-indulging in alcohol and barbecue injuries were common for adults. Claims for accidental deaths did not show any particular pattern as the numbers are quite low.

In the past 10 years, Christmas 2011 was the deadliest, with nine accidental deaths.

New Year's Day 2010 was the worst start to a year in the previous decade, with nine accidental death claims.

Sunday Star Times