Friday, January 15, 2010

Drive Carefully: Emergency Departments Treat 3.5 Million Crash Victims a Year

About 3.5 million motor vehicle crash victims were treated in emergency departments in 2006 for injuries ranging from scrapes and bruises to life-threatening trauma, according to the latest "News and Numbers" from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Roughly 85 percent, or 3 million, of the crash victims were treated and released, while another 321,000 were admitted or transferred to another acute care hospital for inpatient care. About 8,000 victims died in the emergency department.

The federal agency's analysis of motor vehicle accident victims treated in hospital emergency departments in 2006 also found that:
  • 37 percent of crash victims were treated in hospital trauma centers that were equipped to provide comprehensive emergency medical care to people who suffer life-threatening injuries. The remaining patients were treated in hospitals not designated as trauma centers.
  • About 25 percent of the victims were uninsured; 55 percent had private health insurance; 10 percent were covered under Medicaid; 4 percent, under Medicare; and the remaining 7 percent had other types of coverage.
  • Sprains accounted for 44 percent of the injuries treated; superficial injuries such as scrapes accounted for 35 percent; open wounds accounted for 10 percent; and head injuries accounted for 5 percent of the motor vehicle injuries seen in the emergency department. Other types of injuries included fractures (about 15 percent) and internal injuries of the thorax, abdomen, and pelvis (3 percent).
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