View Full Version : Dentist nails toothache problem

01-17-2005, 10:52 AM
Man had 4-inch piece lodged partly in his brain after a work accident

Associated Press

LITTLETON, COLO. - A dentist found the source of the toothache Patrick Lawler was complaining about on the roof of his mouth: a 4-inch nail the construction worker had unknowingly embedded in his skull six days earlier.

A nail gun backfired while Lawler, 23, was working in Breckenridge, a ski-resort town in the central Colorado mountains. It sent a nail into a piece of wood nearby, but Lawler didn't realize a second nail had shot through his mouth, said his sister, Lisa Metcalse.

Following the accident, Lawler had what he thought was a minor toothache and blurry vision. On Wednesday, after painkillers and ice didn't ease the pain, he went to a dental office where his wife, Katerina, works.

"We all are friends, so I thought the (dentists) were joking ... then the doctor came out and said 'There's really a nail,' " Katerina Lawler said."Patrick just broke down. I mean, he had been eating ice cream to help the swelling."

He was taken to a suburban Denver hospital, where he underwent a four-hour surgery. The nail had plunged 1 1/2 inches into his brain, barely missing his right eye, Metcalse said.

"This is the second one we've seen in this hospital where the person was injured by the nail gun and didn't actually realize the nail had been imbedded in their skull," neurosurgeon Sean Markey told KUSA-TV in Denver. "But it's a pretty rare injury."

Lawler was recovering Sunday in the hospital, where he was expected to spend several more days.

Despite his lack of medical insurance and hospital bills between $80,000 and $100,000, Katerina Lawler said her husband is in good spirits.

"The doctors said, 'If you're going to have a nail in the brain, that's the way you want it to be,' " she said. "He's the luckiest guy, ever."

link (http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/nation/2995216)

01-17-2005, 03:57 PM
"A nail gun backfired"? Must not be like the ones I'm used to, which are basically a pneumatic driver positioned above the first-in-line of a stick of nails (much like a stapler).

From the picture, it looks as if he had pointed the gun at himself and accidentally triggered it. I imagine holding it in a position such as "blowing smoke off the end of a pistol barrel".

If I did that with a nail gun and accidentally triggered it, I'd probably come up with a different story also /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif


01-17-2005, 04:20 PM
From the picture, it looks as if he had pointed the gun at himself and accidentally triggered it. <hr /></blockquote>

That would be my guess too. Years ago I worked on a job site with pneumatic nail guns. They were all loaded with ring shanked nails (made them nearly impossble to pull out once they were in). New guys had to be warned not to rest the nail gun against their legs for fear of accidental discharge. Even so we had one idiot who managed to plant one in his shin. Ouch!

I've never heard of any nail gun that discharged nails out the back at the kind of velocity that would have been required for this 'accident'. Lots of things about this article don't ring true - for example - how do you put a four inch nail through the roof of your mouth and into your brain without noticing?

Picture the poor SOB trying to get a claw hammer in there far enough to grab the nail head...


01-18-2005, 07:42 AM
It had to have been a ricochete. I used these guns on a carpenter crew I worked on once. These guys move pretty fast with them. I can see where he might have fired the second shot when he was moving the gun and bounced off something. Another thing that happens is these guys shot right through some materials without them realizing it.

A guy at our data center did it a couple months ago. He shot through something and hit a sprinkler pipe in the ceiling and ruptured it right over two refrigerator sized computers. It fried them both.

01-18-2005, 09:47 AM
Look at the x-ray - to enter the roof of his mouth at that angle, he had to have his mouth open and lower jaw out of the way, maybe even had the business end of the gun in his mouth. I don't think a "ricochet" of any type is going to enter your mouth, make 90-degree turn, and go straight up, without you knowing about it.

I bet the guy was horsing around, shot himself in the mouth, and came up with the story so as not to look like such as dumbass (or to make sure he could get workman's comp).


01-18-2005, 09:50 AM
Yeah I know. It's pretty hard to buy at that angle. Interesting picture though. It would make a good logo.