Ouch! Laptops sent nearly 2,000 people to the hospital — here's why

Beware of laptops
Beware of laptops (Image credit: Getty Images/vm)

It's like The Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but instead of primates taking us down, it's our very own electronics! Dun, dun, dun! A new report from Electronics Hub discovered that the smartphone — yes, the very thing that you're likely reading this article on — is the most dangerous device. In 2021, they caused a whopping 34,000 injuries!

However, desktop PCs and laptops are also on the most-dangerous list, falling in 4th and 11th place, respectively. Being that we are Laptop Mag, I asked Electronic Hubs to give me more insight into the injuries laptops caused in 2021, and to my delight, the research team was more than willing to indulge my schadenfreude.

Laptop injuries

Electronics Hub (Image credit: Electronics Hub)

How did laptops injure its victims?

Electronics Hub investigators tapped into data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), which estimates annual injuries based on a sample of U.S. hospital reports. The research team sifted through the database and highlighted reports that involved tech-related injuries —  and its findings are quite fascinating.

Curious about how laptops injured nearly 2,000 in 2021, I asked the research team to give some real-life examples from hospital reports. Check out a small sample of the cases below:

  • 76-year-old male reported to EMS after they heard a loud noise when sleeping and saw his laptop was on fire. Treated for smoke inhalation.
  • 36-year-old male presents with head pain, states he woke up and banged his head on his laptop.
  • A 10-year-old female presents left thumb pain after her brother accidentally closed the laptop on her left thumb.
  • 31-year-old male was using scraper to remove a sticker from laptop and missed, stabbing his left hand.

Ouch! In addition to these occurrences, there were a great number of instances in which a laptop struck a victim's toe, ankle, or entire foot. Another common scenario is the victim getting shocked after unplugging or plugging their laptop. However, the most bizarre case I've read is that of a 26-year-old male who was admitted to the hospital because he "got mad at self," and as a result, he decided it was a good idea to "hit the top of his head with his laptop." 

Laptop injury

Laptops caused a lot of foot-related injuries (Image credit: Kimberly Gedeon/Snappa)

Laptop OEMs can breathe easy, though. Most of the reported injuries stemmed from human error — not from defects nor faults in production. However, hand surgeon Dr. Pedro K. Beredjiklian insinuated that some companies should be more cognizant of their products' ergonomics.

“It’s usually the thumb joints that are most affected,” said Beredjiklian. “The thumb is overused on both our mobile devices for texting and swiping and on game console controllers.” Game consoles and their peripherals are the third-most dangerous electronics, causing nearly 23,000 injuries in 2021.

"A lot of these problems are caused by non-ergonomic designs in the devices,” Beredjiklian added. “As technology gets smaller, it becomes harder for the hand, causing inflammation.”

One could argue that tech companies should be more focused on ergonomics, ensuring that designs work with — not against — the grooves and contours of our hands and other parts of our bodies. 

Still, there's not much manufacturers can do to combat human imbecility. For example, there's not an ergonomics team in the world who could have stopped the aforementioned 26-year-old male who struck his own head with a laptop because he was "mad at self."

This study analyzed injury data from the NEISS, which features a nationally representative probability sample of 100 hospitals across the country.

Kimberly Gedeon

Kimberly Gedeon, holding a Master's degree in International Journalism, launched her career as a journalist for MadameNoire's business beat in 2013. She loved translating stuffy stories about the economy, personal finance and investing into digestible, easy-to-understand, entertaining stories for young women of color. During her time on the business beat, she discovered her passion for tech as she dove into articles about tech entrepreneurship, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the latest tablets. After eight years of freelancing, dabbling in a myriad of beats, she's finally found a home at Laptop Mag that accepts her as the crypto-addicted, virtual reality-loving, investing-focused, tech-fascinated nerd she is. Woot!