Report: States Can Do More to Prevent Injury-Related Deaths
A new study finds that millions of injuries across the U.S. could be prevented if more states “adopted additional research-based injury prevention policies, and if programs were fully implemented and enforced.” “The Facts Hurt: A State-By-State Injury Prevention Policy Report” was released by the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, developed in partnership with the Safe States Alliance and the Society for the Advancement of Violence and Injury Prevention.
The report includes state-by-state rankings of injury-related death rates, and a report card for how well states scored on 10 key indicators for steps they can take to prevent injuries. Among the featured topics are seat belts, drunk driving, motorcycle helmets, domestic violence, prescription drug abuse, and concussions in youth sports.
As Janice Lloyd writes in USA TODAY:
Injuries are the leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 1 and 44, and the third leading cause of death overall. About 50 million Americans get medical treatment for injuries every year. Yet 24 states have enacted only half of 10 injury-prevention measures examined in the study… No state has approved all 10 measures, which range from seat belt laws to sports concussion safety laws, but California and New York scored the highest, with nine each. Montana and Ohio scored lowest, with two each.
‘We have a long way to go to get uniform coverage to protect more people across the country,’ says co-author Andrea Gielen, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy. ‘We hope the report moves states and communities to do more. These are common-sense measures that could prevent many injuries and save lives if people were aware of them and supportive of them.’
The study says that overall, New Mexico has the highest rate of injury-related deaths in the U.S., at 97.8 per 100,000 people, while New Jersey has the lowest rate at 36.1 per 100,000. The overall national injury death rate is 57.9 per 100,000. About 50 million Americans are medically treated for injuries every year, with more than 2.8 million hospitalized. Injuries generate $406 billion in lifetime costs for medical care and lost productivity.
Colorado had the 17th highest rate of injury-related deaths, according to the study, with 67.8 per 100,000 people suffering injury fatalities. The total lifetime medical costs due to fatal injury in the state were $25.6 million. Colorado scored five out of 10 key indicators of steps states can take to prevent injuries.
The report says that Colorado falls short of some states because it lacks primary seat belt laws, and universal helmet laws for motorcycle riders and for children riding bicycles. In addition, the report does not give Colorado a high score in teen dating violence prevention. The report also does not give Colorado points in the “Ecodes” category. In those states scoring points for Ecodes, more than 90% of injury discharges of patients in emergency departments received external cause of injury codes, which help researchers track trends and develop prevention strategies.
USA TODAY writes about two additional areas in which the report says many states fall short:
The report also notes only 31 states have full-time injury and violence prevention directors, ‘limiting injury prevention efforts.’ Also, federal funding for injury prevention dropped 24% from 2006 to 2011.
The report did not study whether all kinds of injuries are increasing or decreasing over time, but it notes that one kind is soaring.
‘The number of prescriptions for pain killers has more than tripled in the past three years and we’ve also seen a tripling in the number of poisonings,’ says Jeff Levi, executive director of the Trust for America’s Health. ‘To me that was one of the stunning things to jump out from the numbers.’
Among the report’s recommendations: every state establish a prescription drug monitoring program.
You can see the full report with charts and interactive maps here.
Image by Trust for America’s Health, used under Fair Use: Reporting.