Fingertip in Door (ER)

  Fingertip in Door (ER) Emily Halevy | CWK Network
Once we identified that he had a fracture, one of the things we were concerned about was the possibility it could be what’s called an open fracture.

– Dr. Mike Ziegler , emergency pediatrics, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

  Related Information What Parents Need To Know Resources

“Ewww,” exclaims Dr. Mike Ziegler looking at 10-year-old Jacob’s finger, “well that’s not much fun. And I’m guessing that it hurts pretty bad and that’s why you’re here to see us.”

Jacob Amos was walking out of the bathroom at school, when the door slammed on his finger. “So did you get your finger caught on the inside of the door, where the hinges are?” asks the doctor. Jacob nods in pain.

On the surface it looks bad. An x-ray will show what’s been done to the bone. “His x-ray showed a small, essentially crack at the tip of his finger,” explains Dr. Ziegler, “once we identified that he had a fracture, one of the things we were concerned about was the possibility it could be what’s called an open fracture.”

An open fracture, a fracture that is exposed which can lead to an infection in the bone.

“What we’ll do is we’ll clean up the tip of the finger as best we can, irrigate it out copiously with lots of sterile fluid. Then put him on a little bit of antibiotic, sort of protect him against the possibility of infection,” explains the doctor. And, on top of all of that, anesthesia and a little distraction so they can stitch up his finger.

He will lose his fingernail. “It’s gonna come off, there’s not much we can do about that,” the doctor says. But it will grow back, and in time, Jacob will be just fine.

“Jacob’s finger will likely have significant healing within a week to ten days,” says Dr. Ziegler, “the wound itself will probably take 3-4 months before it’s completely healed and the scar will probably take 6-12 months before it looks as it’s gonna look in the future.”
By Larry Eldridge
CWK Network, Inc.

A door can cause serious harm for young children. In fact, thousands of children each year are sent to the hospital with fractures or broken bones because their fingers were caught in slamming doors. Often when this occurs, parents are unsure of the severity of the situation. Does a crushed finger require immediate medical attention? What if the finger looks fine? How do you know when a finger is broken? All of these questions are common concerns for many of these parents.

By Larry Eldridge
CWK Network, Inc.

If your child is the victim of a door slamming accident, he/she may suffer a fracture or broken bone. Understanding the symptoms associated with a fractured or broken finger can help determine whether or not your child should receive immediate medical care. A bone fracture occurs when a break in the bone exists. Typically, this break is classified into two categories – a simple, or closed, fracture or a compound fracture. Your child may have a simple fracture if the bone does not come through the skin or a compound fracture if the bone pierces through the skin. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons cites the following symptoms of a fractured or broken finger:

  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Inability to move the finger completely
  • Deformity
  • Extreme pain at the site of the injury
  • Pain increased by any movement

If your child displays any of the symptoms mentioned above, it is important that he/she receives immediate medical attention. Often, however, a slammed finger may just look bruised and cut. In some cases, the fingernail may be damaged and require stitches. Determining whether or not your child’s finger injury is serious and whether a torn nail requires stitches can be difficult for any parent. The University of Michigan Health System suggests seeking immediate care for your injured child if the following occurs:

  • The skin is split open and may need stitches.
  • Blood collects under a nail AND becomes very painful.
  • Dirt or grime enters the wound and you can’t clean it.
  • The finger can’t be opened (straightened) and closed (bent) completely.

You should wait and call your child’s physician during normal office hours if the following occurs:

  • The injury looks infected.
  • Your child is not using the finger or toe normally after one week.
  • You have other questions or concerns regarding the injury.

Treatment for a smashed finger depends on the severity of the injury. If you determine that your injured child does not need immediate medical attention, you can follow these guidelines from the Mercy Medical Center:

  • Apply an ice pack to decrease the swelling.
  • Use over-the-counter pain medications to help relieve discomfort.
  • DO NOT splint a smashed finger without first consulting your health-care provider. Decreased long-term finger mobility may result.
  • DO NOT try to drain a swollen finger unless your health-care provider instructs you to do so.

You can’t prevent all accidents, but you can take several steps to minimize your child’s chances of being injured. The Consumer Federation of America offers the following advice for helping to keep your child’s fingers injury-free:

  • Use slow, self-closing springs on doors or catches to keep them open.
  • Know where children are to avoid closing doors on their fingers.
  • Special strips are available to guard the hinge side of doors.
  • Use chocks, wedges or catches to keep internal doors from slamming.
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Emergency Services
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
University of Michigan Health System
Mercy Medical Center
Consumer Federation of America