Hand and Finger Injuries: One ER Physician's Story
Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO
Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
As an emergency room physician, I frequently see hand injuries. More than 1,000,000 U.S. workers receive treatment in emergency departments annually for acute hand and finger injuries. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that approximately 110,000 workers with hand and finger injuries lose days from work annually - second only to back strain and sprain in terms of work days lost.
I injured my hand when I was 18 years old, and since then I have taken a special interest in treating hand injuries.
While working in a restaurant I accidentally stuck my index finger into a mechanical cheese grating machine and ground off the tip of my finger. I suffered traumatic nail bed damage, an open fracture, and tendon injury to the dorsum (back side) of my finger.
I went directly to the local emergency department where I was seen by a resident physician who took some X-rays and then prepared to repair the extensive lacerations.
During the procedure the doctor injected lidocaine (a common local anesthetic) directly into the area surrounding my wounds to anesthetize my finger, which was incredibly painful - more painful than the initial injury. The doctor put in several stitches to stop the bleeding and bandaged my finger with a splint. I was referred to a hand surgeon for follow-up the next day.