Colleagues at the Pacific Institute for Research and I recently published an article in Injury Epidemiology describing the incidence and costs of non-fatal injury-related emergency department visits and hospitalizations in 2013 in the United States. We found that approximately 1 in 10 individuals in the US visited the hospital for a nonfatal injury that year, which represented a total cost of more than $1.8 trillion, with more than $405 billion in costs related to childhood injury in those under 18 years old.
Our analysis took into account not only medical spending, but also work lost and decreased quality of life. It is this quality of life measure that represents the majority of the costs, which explains why our estimate is nearly four times that of a similar cost estimate for 2013 non-fatal injuries that did not include this measure.
We know that injury is the leading cause of death and acquired disability in children, with this disability lasting from days to a lifetime. Children are the most affected by injury-related impairment of quality of life and the corresponding costs of this measure, arguably the most critical component to include. Preventive efforts are paramount to not only save lives, but to reduce the burden of injury in terms of severity, morbidity (including sequelae of injury and disability), and costs.
Hopefully, these staggering cost statistics can help reinforce the need for evidence-based, sustainable, and targeted injury prevention efforts and interventions.
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