6 Major Causes of Injury We Can Limit Today
News As an emergency physician, I’ve witnessed firsthand the impact of injuries on the lives of my patients and their families. The physical, emotional, mental and financial toll is devastating.
Injuries are a leading cause of death in this country. In the first half of life, more Americans die from injuries and violence—motor vehicle crashes, falls or homicides — than from any other cause, including HIV, cancer or the flu. Injuries and violence don’t discriminate. They affect everyone, regardless of age, race or economic status.
We can do something to prevent this.
Every year in the United States some 2.5 million people are hospitalized and 27 million are treated and released from emergency departments because of violence and unintentional injuries. According to data, in 2013 the total lifetime medical and work-loss costs of injuries and violence in the U.S. were $671 billion. These injuries may result in lost wages and health benefits, which can negatively affect a person’s lifestyle.
Injuries create a substantial economic burden for the health care system and American people. In 2013, the lifetime medical and work-loss costs associated with fatal injuries was $214 billion, while emergency department-treated non-fatal injuries accounted for over $457 billion.
The following are the key injury and violence issues we believe can protect Americans:
1. Motor vehicle injury
Improving proper restraint use, including seat belts, child safety seats and booster seats.
2. Prescription drug overdose
Working with states, communities and prescribers to prevent opioid misuse and overdose by tracking and monitoring the epidemic, helping states scale up effective programs, and supplying health care providers with data, tools and guidance for evidence-based decision making.
3. Older adult falls
Making fall prevention a routine part of clinical care with tools for screening, assessing, treating and following-up with patients.
4. Child abuse and neglect
Ensuring children and families have safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments.
5. Youth sports concussion
Creating a culture of safety in youth sports; encouraging young athletes to report symptoms and providing concussion resources to coaches and parents.
6. Sexual violence
Using a comprehensive approach to change social norms, teach skills, promote respectful relationships, provide opportunities to empower women and girls and create protective and supportive environments.
Understanding cost burden of injuries and violence helps us understand how and where to effectively target our preventive interventions. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides many opportunities for prevention. For example, the ACA requires many health plans to provide coverage without cost-sharing for certain recommended clinical preventive services.
These include screening patients for high injury risk factors such as depression, domestic violence, and alcohol abuse, and preventing older-adult falls through physical therapy and vitamin D supplementation. The ACA also supports innovations in health care, such as electronic health records, which can help doctors individualize injury-prevention services. Injuries and violence affect everyone, and it’s up to us all to prevent them.