Did you know that about 31 million people go to the Emergency Room every year for an accidental injury? That’s a lot of accidents.
According to the data, accidental injuries are the number 1 cause of death in people 45 years of age and younger. It’s the number 4 cause of death for all ages.
Many of the most serious injuries are from burns, poisoning and falls.
Here are some additional statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) which tracks the data:
- Total Deaths: around 130,000 a year
- Deaths from falling: around 30,000 a year
- Motor vehicle deaths: around 33,804 a year
- Poisoning deaths: around 38,000 a year
The costs of an accident are pretty amazing. WISQARS analysis estimates that the combined health care and lost productivity costs are over 580 billion dollars a year! This cost doesn’t take into account the personal costs of suffering, lost opportunities and life-long changes that result from the more serious accidents.
That said, even minor accidents can result in insomnia, fear, depression and disability. Here’s the good news: knowing about these secondary effects from an accident helps medical providers, such as Nurse Practitioners, develop a plan of care that can reduce the chance they will develop, or will decrease their severity.
Prevention and Treatments
As the name implies, an accident … is an accident. This also means that many accidents, and the injuries which result in death or lifelong disability can be prevented.
Let’s check out some of the more common accidents-how they can be avoided and what to do once they happen. We’ll start with the big ones.
Here’s the most important thing you need when it comes to poisoning:
That is the number for Poison Control Center
You can call that number 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Even on Holidays
The Poison Control Center will provide specific instructions for any type of poison ingested, and it’s extremely important to check with them first. You never want to self- treat a possible poisoning, such as trying to vomit.
This is because some poisons can burn on the way down, and then burn deeper on the way back up- causing greater damage.
According to the National Capital Poison Center, Cosmetics and cleaners are the #1 cause of poisoning in kids under the age of 6.
In adults 20 years of age and older, pain medication and sedatives were the leading causes of unintentional poisoning.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Well- do you wear your seatbelt every time you get in the car? You should because it can not only help save your life, but also help prevent you from suffering from a broken neck, back or serious head injury.
We all know that seatbelts save lives, but don’t always think about what happens if your body is severely damaged, and you have to live with that damage for the rest of your life. Here’s something to consider:
- Brain damage from a head injury that prevents you from answering questions, asking for what you want or making decisions necessary to take care of yourself
- A broken neck leading to quadriplegia- which means you can’t move anything below your neck
- A broken back leading to paraplegia- which means your lower body is paralyzed
- Life-long pain
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Chronic infections
- Loss of eyesight
….you get the picture
Motor vehicle accidents include everyone. The driver, passengers and pedestrians or bicyclists struck by a car.
While everyone can be injured from a fall, it can be deadly for those who are older. The Centers for Disease Control collected data about falls and in 2013 found that 2.5 million older adults were treated for a fall in the emergency department. 750,000 of those folks had be hospitalized. Why are falls so dangerous in older adults?
- Bones are more brittle, and can break much easier
- Older Americans are more likely to be on blood thinners, so when they fall this leads to dangerous bleeding inside the body. For example bumping one’s head on the counter or floor while falling can cause the brain to bleed
- It takes longer to recover. When you don’t take a deep breath or move because you are in pain, your risk of pneumonia increases.
Here are some fall prevention strategies you can follow right now:
- Ensure there is proper lighting at home
- Get rid of throw rugs or other floor hazards that someone can trip on
- Check eyesight
- Reviews all meds with the primary care provider to see if any increase the risk of falling
- Exercise! For example Tai Chi is proven to help reduce the risk of falls
Overall- common sense goes a long way. Don’t rush home in traffic and risk an accident just be home 5 minutes sooner. Those are 5 minutes you don’t get back if seriously injured.
Keep poisonous substances out of the home, or safely locked away.
Prevent injuries such as falls by removing obstacles and fall hazards.
Injury Statistics (2015) http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/]
CDC (2015) Fast Stats; retrieve from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/accidental-injury.htm%5D