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June 26, 2018

The Hazards of Barbecue Season

Artemis Health

Summer in America is the season of pool parties, picnics in the park and cold PBRs. It’s also a time for barbecue and where family, friends, and neighbors dust off their grills and show off their dormant cooking skills. But cooking over an open flame has its share of risks. And we’re not talking about an overdone burger. According to NBC News, nearly 18,000 people were sent to the emergency room because of grilling-related accidents in 2010. The more severe injuries were the result of burns sustained when excessive lighter fluid or fuel was used to light the grill or when the flames accidentally torched clothes.

At Artemis, we were curious to find out if barbeque cooking meant more injuries and more medical claims for our customers. Specifically, we wanted to know: how does grilling affect benefits spending? To answer that question, we looked at few BBQ related injuries in the Artemis Platform: hand burns, knife lacerations, eye irritants (from the smoke) and carpal tunnel claims.

Let’s take a look at the results.

We looked at sample data in the Artemis Platform to get a sense for overall costs. We found that out of 1,400 claims, 62 could be related to BBQ. Breaking down the claims in the sample population, eight were from hand burns. Although few, they also had the highest overall cost to the employer: $10,119. We also sliced the data by gender. Men were more commonly the victims of hand burns, which is perhaps explained by the long tradition of men doing the grilling. Or perhaps men are more likely to use too much lighter fluid?

Knife injuries were more common than burns, with 18 claims for this injury. Men were also more likely to seek care for a knife injury, with 12 claims vs. 8 for women.

We also looked at eye irritants, which could be caused by rubbing your eyes after cooking with hot peppers or spicy sauces. Additionally, carpal tunnel syndrome is a risk for serious cooks who use repetitive motion to chop veggies, make sauces, and turn meat on the grill. While it’s not necessarily the case that these claims are from summer grilling, our analysis found that both these conditions are more prevalent among women than men.  

Out of all the injuries we analyzed, five were severe enough to be admitted to an inpatient hospital. Unsurprisingly, these claims cost employers the most: $ 203,608. Seven claims were treated in the emergency room at a total of $24,704. When looking at claims data, it’s important to know where your employee is going for treatment to minimize the overall cost for both you and your member.

Grilling can be a fun pastime, but there’s a serious risk of burns or cuts to more than just your burgers and veggies. We sincerely wish you a safe and delicious summer BBQ season.

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