Avoiding the emergency room

Di­ana Hsieh in­ter­views Dr. Doug McGuff about avoid­able in­juries and deaths.

He’s an emer­gency room physi­cian in South Carolina, so he’s pretty much just talk­ing about what he’s seen—differ­ent re­gions have differ­ent char­ac­ter­is­tic in­juries.

He says that you’re safest in the largest car you can af­ford, which raises some in­ter­est­ing eth­i­cal is­sues.

There’s a fair amount about the risks of get­ting overfo­cused on get­ting some­thing done. This adds tremen­dously to the haz­ards of us­ing lad­ders.

Also, did you know trees can go spro­ing? One of haz­ards of chain­saws is that a good bit of en­ergy might be stored in a twisted tree trunk. Don’t just know your physics, ap­ply it!

More gen­er­ally, there are ma­chines and situ­a­tions (ATVs, chain­saws, air­planes, skiing, etc.) which tend to make peo­ple feel more com­pe­tent than they are.

On the other hand, in­juries from rock climb­ing and horse­back rid­ing are less com­mon than you might think. I don’t know why the an­ces­tral en­vi­ron­ment didn’t give peo­ple a re­flex­ive dis­taste against div­ing into wa­ter. Per­haps peo­ple back then had too much sense to dive much.

One of the pieces of ad­vice—to get out of stress­ful re­la­tion­ships—is too gen­eral. This is mostly a good idea, but from what I’ve read, leav­ing a vi­o­lent re­la­tion­ship can lead to more risk of vi­o­lence. It’s still a good idea to leave, but it’s im­por­tant to leave cau­tiously.

Both McGuff and Hsieh are ob­jec­tivists, so some of the dis­cus­sion might be in mind-kil­ler ter­ri­tory.

Edited to add: It’s pos­si­ble that ob­jec­tivism would be bet­ter dis­cussed un­der a new post. It’s cer­tain that there’s a bunch of in­ter­est­ing ma­te­rial in the pod­cast, and avoid­able ac­ci­dents are worth dis­cussing.

Topic list:

  • “Black swans” of health and “The Dirty Dozen”

  • #1: Driv­ing a car or motorcycle

  • #2: Rid­ing an ATV

  • #3: Bik­ing or jog­ging on pub­lic roads

  • #4: Fly­ing a plane or he­li­copter yourself

  • #5: Get­ting into a fight

  • #6: Light­ing a gas grill

  • #7: Div­ing into water

  • #8: Us­ing lad­ders and chainsaws

  • #9: Re­tiring and build­ing your dream house

  • #10: Allow­ing your­self to be forced into a car or trunk at gunpoint

  • #11: Stay­ing in stress­ful relationships

  • #12: Win­ning the lottery

  • Dr. McGuff’s his­tory with risky sports

  • The risks of other sports

  • How to sur­vive the ER