Injuries caused by falling down, car wrecks and other accidents cost the U.S. economy $117 billion every year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday.
This represents 10 percent of all medical spending and much of it could be prevented, the CDC said.
The report, published in the CDC’s weekly report on death and sickness, combines the results of two different surveys to come up with the costs.
“In the United States, injuries are the leading cause of death among persons aged under 35 years and the fourth leading cause of death among persons of all ages,” the report reads.
“The medical costs associated with injuries are staggering but it’s just the tip of the iceberg,” CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding said in a statement.
“When we add in productivity losses, decreased quality of life and the emotional toil that injuries and disabilities have on families, the problem is enormous.”
The report looked first at the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, a survey of 25,000 people who got medical care in 2000.
It tallies up insurance costs and out-of-pocket spending for all medical services, including inpatient hospitalizations, emergency department visits, ambulatory care, prescription drugs, home health care, mental health care, dental visits, and medical devices.
It projected that 44.7 million people or 16 percent of the population needed treatment in 2000 for at least one injury.
Solutions easy and obvious
Then the National Health Accounts survey, which looks at spending for the military and people in institutions, was factored in, too.
Falls accounted for at least 33 percent of the total medical cost of injuries and motor vehicle crashes accounted for at least 18 percent, the CDC said.
“Motor vehicle crashes, homicides, suicide, and debilitating falls are so common that unfortunately many have accepted that injury is inevitable,” Gerberding said. “This is tragic because so many injuries are preventable.”
The solutions are often easy and obvious, said Dr. Sue Binder, director of the CDC Injury Prevention Center.
“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.”