Injuries cost the United States an estimated $117 billion in medical fees each year suggests a report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This estimate represents approximately ten percent of total medical spending and is similar in magnitude to the medical costs associated with other leading public health concerns such as obesity and smoking.
“The medical costs associated with injuries are staggering but it’s just the tip of the iceberg,” said CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding. “When we add in productivity losses, decreased quality of life and the emotional toll that injuries and disabilities have on families, the problem is enormous.”
The report, “Medical Expenditures Attributable to Injuries in the United States, 2000” published in the January 16 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), revealed that approximately 16 percent of the civilian, non-institutionalized population in the United States reported treatment for at least one injury in 2000. Falls accounted for at least 33 percent of the total medical cost of injuries and motor vehicle crashes accounted for at least 18 percent.
“Motor vehicle crashes, homicides, suicide, and debilitating falls are so common that unfortunately many have accepted that injury is inevitable,” said Dr. Gerberding. “This is tragic because so many injuries are preventable.”
Dr. Sue Binder, director of the CDC Injury Prevention Center, said that communities can have a dramatic impact on reducing injuries by implementing prevention programs that work. “We know that seat belts and child safety seats and smoke alarms are effective. And we can prevent falls among older adults through exercise programs that include balance training, vision correction, and reduction of medications to the fewest number and doses, and environmental changes.”
Researchers noted that the actual cost of injuries is much greater than the estimate reported above, which is solely limited to medical costs. Lost wages, caregiver costs and non-medical costs resulting from injuries are likely to exceed the medical burden of injuries. A future CDC study will examine the costs of injuries from this broader perspective.
This report can be found at CDC’s web site. For more information about CDC’s Injury Prevention programs, link to http://www.cdc.gov/injury.
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