Winter Injuries

With winter now upon us, several storms have already hit much of the country with dangerous snow and ice. The wintery conditions can result in injuries that often lead to hospitalizations that are sometimes fatal.  The impact on society is direct in terms of medical costs and indirect in terms of lost productivity.

There is a wealth of NCHS data that help illustrate the impact of injuries on Americans. Mortality data from 2010 show that injuries are among the leading causes of death in the United States, and unintentional injuries (accidents) are the 5th leading cause of death for all ages.

More striking than the number of injury deaths is the number of injuries seen in hospitals and emergency departments. In 2010, for each death by injury, there about 11 times as many hospitalizations and 182 times as many emergency department visits. In 2010, nearly 1 in 4 emergency department visits-almost 30 million visits-had injury as the primary diagnosis.

Diagnosed injuries are classified by mechanism—the cause of the injury. The five most common mechanisms of diagnosed injury for people who sought treatment in emergency departments were: falls, being struck by a person or object, motor vehicle traffic accidents, cut, and exposure and other natural or environmental injuries. Also, the average length of hospital stay for treatment of an injury was almost 5 days.

For non-fatal injuries, CDC estimates that falls were the leading mechanism of initial injury emergency department in 2010.  Also, nearly half of the respondent-reported non-fatal medically attended injuries occurred in or around the home.

So watch out for those patches of ice.

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