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Non-fatal injuries cost about $1.8T in United States

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A study found nonfatal injuries in the United States totaled more than $1.8 trillion in costs, covering everything from actual care to lost hours of work.

By Allen Cone, UPI

Nonfatal injuries in the United States totaled more than $1.8 trillion in costs stemming from hospital visits in one year, according to an analysis.

Researchers from Brown University and the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation found that about one in 10 individuals in the United States was treated for an injury at a hospital in 2013. An analysis of data on the injuries was published Monday in the journal Injury Epidemiology.

Injuries are a leading cause of death and acquired disability in children and adults, the researchers noted, though they looked exclusively at non-fatal injuries treated at the hospital.

"Having an economic analysis that focuses on the burden of injury from the perspective of not only acute medical costs, but also ongoing costs like quality of life, raises awareness around injury and the importance of injury-prevention efforts," Dr. Mark Zonfrillo, an associate professor at Brown University's Warren Alpert Medical School and a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Hasbro Children's Hospital, said in a press release.

Injury prevention is dependent on engineering, education, economics and enforcement, he said. He noted a well-designed child car seat only has value if used consistently or properly.

And people often don't use safety devices, such as a bicycle helmet, because "'if it was important enough, it would be a law," Zonfrillo said.

The team analyzed data from hospital-treated nonfatal injuries from the 2013 Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project.

Costs for the 31 million injuries were divided into three categories. Medical spending, which included costs such as hospital and home care, emergency transportation, medicines and physical therapy, cost $168 billion, while future lost work from permanent disability wound up at $223 billion and quality of life losses were around $1.46 trillion.

Previous analyses focused only on certain populations, such as children or Medicaid recipients.

The researchers broke the injuries down by type. They found 12.08 million injuries were caused by falls or being hit by an object accidentally came to a total cost $808 billion and an average of $66,857 per injury.

Car-related accidents were associated with 3.08 million injuries costing $207 billion, or an average $67,163 per incident.

Also, there were 10,772 near drownings costing $3.89 billion at a cost of $361,163 each.

The number of firearm related injuries were 74,072 at a total cost of $16.32 billion, with an average cost of $220,380.

Self-harm injuries totaled 437,963 at a cost of $30.17 billion and about $68,894 each. Poisonings comprised 63.8 percent of them.

Children between 1 and 11 had the lowest costs of any age group, at an average cost per injury of $47,663 -- but those under 1 were the costliest, at $97,623 each.

Among income, those in the bottom 25 percent accounted for 30.8 percent of all injuries.

More than 90 percent of patients with injuries were treated and released from the emergency room. Patients who were admitted had far more costly injuries averaging $343,535, compared with $33,184 in the emergency room.

Among those hospitalized, $38,112 of average cost was for medical costs and $305,423 was from lost work and decreased quality of life due to disability.

And of the 8.5 percent of patients admitted to the hospital, 38.7 percent were in the South.

"These injuries are preventable, and quantifying the costs is one strategy to encourage societal injury prevention efforts," Zonfrillo said.

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Health - U.S. Daily News: Non-fatal injuries cost about $1.8T in United States
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