Don’t Let Them Splint You. How ER’s Are Making Things Worse

Splints, often applied in the ER and typically designed to immobilize a fracture in order to prevent further damage to a patient, may be making patient conditions significantly worse.


A recent study by the University Maryland Medical centre done on 275 people who received improperly applied splints due to a fracture or bone injury reported the following:

  • 78% received a skin laceration from the splint
  • 41% of patients suffered with splint-related soft tissue complications [this includes damage to a ligament, such as a sprained ankle]
  • Nearly 10% needed to be medically treated because of a complication with their improperly applied splint

The worry here is that most patients in the ER in need of a splint, including those incapable of speaking up for themselves — children and disabled patients, are already in a state of discomfort. An improperly applied splint which would inflict excess pain, might not be noticed because of pain medication and the previously present agony that a patient is feeling.


While doctors and nurse practitioners surveyed during the study agree that this problem is unacceptable, there is no way to control the actions of medical professionals worldwide who may be, in this moment, improperly applying splints to injured parties.

Consensus? As if the Doctor’s office isn’t already scary enough, now there is malpractice to add to the list of worries.

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