Top ED doctor warns 'don't carve drunk' this Christmas

A top ED doctor has warned of the dangers of carving the Christmas turkey while drunk in a bid to cut the number of serious accidents that ruin many families’ festive celebrations.

Dr John Heyworth, emergency department consultant at Southampton General Hospital and president of the College of Emergency Medicine, said: “Every Christmas without fail we see the same injuries caused by preparing and cooking the Christmas dinner.

“People are likely to burn themselves on the oven or cut themselves as they carve the turkey – particularly if they have been drinking alcohol.”

Dr Heyworth is also urging family members to take extra care of their elderly relatives, who are vulnerable to choking on the traditional holiday meat.

“We will always see someone who chokes over Christmas, often the elderly. They will choke on a piece of meat because they don’t chew it properly,” he said.

“If people are looking after or hosting elderly people for Christmas dinner, it is important to take extra care of them. It seems like a basic thing, but someone will choke on turkey over Christmas; it happens every single year.”

Turkey carving is not the only hazard facing the home chef, with cases of nasty hand and limb injuries caused by people trying to get stones out of avocados becoming an increasing issue.  

“Last year I remember incidents with people trying to get stones out of avocados,” said Rob Crouch, emergency department consultant nurse.

“Instead of putting a knife across the stone and twisting, people tend to stab down and then either go through or slip off into the hand, often resulting in a nasty injury.” 

Staff in the hospital’s eye casualty unit also issued a note of caution when grabbing presents from under the tree, popping champagne corks, trying on new zip-up jumpers and even using craft activity packs.

Sister Emma Powditch said: “The main problems people come in with over Christmas include scratches to the eye from Christmas tree branches as they place and retrieve gifts from under the tree and corks hitting the eye, which causes significant bruising and swelling to lids as well as inflammation and swelling within the eye.

“We would just say don’t put presents too far back under the tree and open bottles pointing away from your own and others faces to avoid unnecessary and damaging injury to the eyes.”

Eye unit staff also commonly see children suffering after poking themselves or others in the eye with new toys, glitter fragments in the eye from cards or craft activities, and dry eyes from sleeping with eyes open after excess alcohol consumption.

More unusual injuries they have seen include:

  • Exploding Christmas tree lights, which cause small burns to eyelids and eyeballs
  • Catching zips on eyelids whilst struggling to try on new jumper
  • Eye injuries from snowballs with stones in and snowballs that have frozen or made of compacted ice.
Posted on Monday 21 December 2009