From Akron, Ohio we now have the story of a first-grader who stepped on a used syringe. It happened in her school when she was emptying the trash for her teacher.
So, what was the little girl doing barefoot at school?
The story was in the Akron Beacon Journal, Used needle pierces student’s foot in Akron classroom; teacher placed on leave. Kaylynn Greathouse is the name of the little girl.
According to the story, her teacher, who is diabetic, had improperly disposed of one of her syringes. Later, she asked Kaylynn to help take out the trash. The exact circumstances of how Kaylynn stepped on the needle is not quite clear.
Kaylynn herself says,
I dumped it out and then I st– . . . and it fell out, I think. And then I set it down and I stepped on it.
Another news story says that the needle apparently “fell out of the trash can as she emptied an Easter basket into the container.” It’s hard to imagine how she would step on it, except deliberately.
Of course, that shouldn’t matter. Discarded needles, especially by a diabetic who knows better, and especially-especially by a teacher with young students, have to be properly disposed of in a special Sharps Container.
The needle punctured her sole right near the middle of the foot. Here she is taking off her shoe to show her foot to the news crew. (Pictures from the video story, Teacher on Leave After Child Stepped on Needle at School.)
And here’s the puncture wound.
Of course, it’s pretty hard to see, since sharp needles don’t leave much of a hole. But if you look carefully at the spot pointed to by the index finger, you can see a little red spot.
Kaylynn was taken to the hospital where she was checked out for infections—everything seems fine right now.
Oh, and what was she doing barefoot at school? She wasn’t. She was wearing shoes (presumably the ones she is pictured with). Needles and other sharp objects tend to go right through most shoes, and they did in this case, too.
In fact, in a classic 1997 study, Soft tissue and bone infections from puncture wounds in children, that looked at the infections kids got when their feet were punctured by nails and the like in San Antonio, 61% of the foot punctures went right through a shoe. And the infections from the punctures were worse when a shoe was worn. That’s because some of the pathogens (Pseudomonas aeruginosa in particular) were unique to the inside of a shoe, were being incubated in the shoe environment, and were then injected deep into the foot by the nail where they could really take hold.
You know, I bet you if she had been barefoot, she would not have been blithely and deliberately stepping on trash like she did.
And I also know, if she had been barefoot, the headline would have been all about how a barefoot girl had stepped on a needle. And I bet at least half the outrage would have been over the idea that the teacher had let the girl be barefoot.
And nobody would have realized that a shoe would have made no difference.