Falling TVs are Kids’ Ticket to the ER

Child injuries from falling TVs increased every year since 1990

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) When the little ones are intrigued by the TV, their curiosity brings them closer. But when they get too close and a TV falls, it’s a direct ticket to the hospital.

The number of injuries from falling TVs that sent kids to the hospital increased more than 125 percent since 1990, new research shows.

This finding illustrates the need to increase prevention efforts with public education, improving standards for TV stability, providing TV anchoring programs and redesigning the TVs themselves to improve stability, according to researchers of this study.

"Keep an eye on your child at all times."

The aim of this study, led by Ana C. De Roo, BA, from the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, was to see how many injuries occurred among kids between 1990 and 2011 because of falling TVs.

The researchers looked at data acquired in the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, which includes information on children under 18 years of age who were treated at hospital emergency departments across the US.

Over this 22-year period, 380,885 patients were treated at emergency departments for TV-related injuries. This equated to 17,313 children each year, the researchers found.

Almost two-thirds of the patients were under 5 years old with a median (middle) age of 3 years old.

Within the survey, the furniture on which the TVs stood was recorded less than a third of the time. The size of the TV was noted less than 20 percent of the time.

In total, an average of 2.43 injuries occurred for every 10,000 children each year, with the number of injuries ranging between 2.15 to 2.90 for every 10,000 kids.

The number of injuries linked to falling TVs increased by 125.5 percent over the course of the study. 

The researchers also found that the number of injuries from TVs falling from a dresser, chest of drawers or armoire increased 344.1 percent from 632 accidents in 1995 to 2,807 in 2011. TVs falling from these pieces of furniture made up 46 percent of all children’s injuries.

Concerning the size of the television, TVs that were smaller than 26 inches made up about two-thirds of all the injuries.

The increase in injuries might be due to the increasing number of TVs in each household, according to the researchers. More than half of all households have more than three televisions.

The shape and weight of the flat screen TV might also make it easier for the TVs to fall, the researchers said. Further, children may be pulling open dresser drawers underneath the TVs and causing the TV to fall on top of them.

“More than 17,000 children receive emergency treatment of a TV-related injury in the US annually, which equals 1 child every 30 minutes,” the researchers wrote in their report.

“Although the overall rate of TV-related injury stayed fairly constant, the rate of injury associated with a falling TV almost doubled during the study period,” they wrote.

"Having practiced in a pediatric ER & ICU for over 10 years, I have witnessed a number of these injuries and the vast majority could have been prevented.  While most of these injuries result in cuts or bruises, I have seen a fair share result in more serious consequences.  Sadly, I have witnessed some tragic outcomes as well," Kourosh Parsapour, MD, CEO of 5plus Therapy, told dailyRx News.  

"This study underscores the need to increase our prevention efforts such as public education, mandatory anchoring devices at the point of sale, device distribution programs, redesign of TV stands, or even mandated safety inspection requirements provided by the manufacturer (or distributor) of the home if a consumer declares the presence of a child less than 5 years of age," said Dr. Parsapour. 

The authors noted a few limitations to their study, including that the survey where they drew information might have underestimated the actual number of injuries that occurred from falling televisions. The researchers said the the survey only reported injuries that were treated in hospitals.

The survey also did not provide detailed medical record information from healthcare professionals on the children involved. And the researchers did not have detailed information on the type or size of the television to assist with future prevention efforts.

The study was published online July 22 in the journal Pediatrics. No financial conflicts of interest were disclosed.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
July 26, 2013
Last Updated:
July 29, 2013