The definition of injury is physical damage to the body resulting from acute exposure to thermal, mechanical, electrical, or chemical energy or from the absence of such essentials such as heat or oxygen.
— National Committee for Injury Prevention and Control, 1989
"Injury is probably the most under recognized major public health problem facing the nation today.”
— National Academy of Sciences, 1988
Injury Prevention and Public Health
- In April 2012, CDC released their Vital Signs report on Child Injury in conjunction with the launch of the National Action Plan for Child Injury Prevention.
- Injury prevention has not traditionally been perceived as a major public health issue. Rather, injuries have been viewed as unavoidable "accidents" that are part of everyday life (Sleet et al, 2004).
- Injuries, unlike accidents, do not happen by chance. The science of injury prevention has demonstrated that injuries and the events leading up to injuries are not random. Like disease, they follow a distinct pattern. Studying these patterns has made it possible to learn to predict and prevent injuries from occurring.
- Although scientific advances and medical technology have significantly improved America's health status in the past forty years, injury continues to threaten the health of Americans. This threat comes in the form of death, disability, and financial burden.
Magnitude of the Problem
- Injury is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of death for children and young adults between 1 and 44 years of age (CDC, 2006).
- Injuries claim more potential years of life lost prematurely before age 65 than any other cause of death (CDC, 2004).
- In 2002, 81% of all injury deaths were due to five mechanisms: motor vehicle traffic (27%), firearms (19%), poisonings (16%), falls (11%), and suffocation (8%) (MMWR, 2005).
- More than 179,000 people die each year from injury (CDC, 2006) including approximately:
- 43,000 from motor vehicle crashes;
- 55,000 from poisonings, falls, drowning, fires and burns;
- 33,000 from suicide; and
- 18,000 from homicide.
Injury and Disability
- Injury deaths are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the burden of injury in the U.S. In 2002, injuries lead to 161,269 deaths, 1.8 million hospital discharges, 33 million emergency department visits and 82.3 million other outpatient visits (NCHS, 2005).
Injury and Financial Burden
- In 2000, medical expenditures for injuries in the U.S. totaled $117 billion (CDC 2004a).
- Injury prevention is a good investment.
- Child safety seat distribution yields a total benefit to society* of $1,900 for an average cost of only $46 per seat (Children's Safety Network, 2005).
- A motorcycle helmet yields a total benefit to society of $4,300 for an average cost of $240 per helmet (Children's Safety Network, 2005).
- The zero alcohol tolerance for drivers under age 21 yields a total benefit to society of $850 for a cost of $34 per driver (Children's Safety Network, 2005).
- Smoke alarm purchase provides a total benefit to society of $940 for the cost of $33 per smoke alarm (Children's Safety Network, 2005).
- Parent training on child behavior monitoring produces a total benefit to society of $16,000 for a cost of $3,700 per child (Children's Safety Network, 2005).
- For youth offenders of violence, attending Functional Family Therapy generates a total benefit to society of $83,000 for a cost of $2,400 per client (Children's Safety Network, 2005).
- For adult offenders of violence, job search and assistance at time of release from prison creates $7,300 of total benefit to society for a cost of $620 per client (Children's Safety Network, 2005).
- Youth offender aggression replacement therapy produces a total benefit to society of $46,000 for a cost of $470 per client (Children's Safety Network, 2005).
- Pediatrician injury prevention counseling for children ages 0-4 yields a total benefit to society of $86 for a cost of $10 per child (Children's Safety Network, 2005).
- A youth suicide prevention program for Native Americans provides a total benefit to society of $6,700 for a cost of $175 per youth (Children's Safety Network, 2005).
- Fall prevention interventions for high-risk elderly produces a total benefit to society of $10,800 for a cost of $1,250 per person (Children's Safety Network, 2005).
- The Harlem Hospital Safe Communities yields a total benefit to society of $38 for a cost of $16 per child (Children's Safety Network, 2005)
* Total Benefit to Society- Amount interventions saved by preventing injuries- including medical costs, other resource costs (police, fire services, property damage, etc.), work loss, and quality of life costs. These estimates are in 2004 dollars.
> Return to Top