More than 157,000 Americans were killed and about 1.6 million hospitalized as a result of car crashes, falls, violent acts and accidents in 2001, federal officials said Thursday in a report that urged the nation to pay more attention to basic safety.
Researchers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said their analysis of data from the 50 states and District of Columbia showed that unintentional injuries were a problem that cut across age, gender and race.
One in 10 U.S. residents, or about 29.7 million people, were treated for non-fatal injuries in emergency rooms in 2001, according to the CDC report, the first to study the magnitude of both fatal and non-fatal injuries in the nation.
'Everyone is impacted by injuries'
“This makes it very clear that everyone is impacted by injuries,” said Lee Annest, a CDC statistician who worked on the report. “We have to understand that we all have a risk of injury, and there are things we can do to reduce the risk."
Unintentional injuries are the fifth leading cause of death in the nation after heart disease, cancer, stroke and lower respiratory diseases such as emphysema, bronchitis and asthma.
The price tag due to injuries is costly, at an estimated $117 billion in annual health care expenses. That does not include the untold billions in lost wages and productivity of workers who are injured or killed.
The Atlanta-based CDC said simple measures, such as wearing a seat belt, installing fire alarms and not drinking and driving, could help reduce the toll of injuries.
The CDC, the U.S. Surgeon General’s Office and other agencies have been pushing for programs targeting groups at higher risk for injuries such as teenagers and drunk drivers.
Teenagers and young adults between the ages of 15 and 24 had the highest risk of dying in a motor vehicle accident in 2001. Car crashes accounted for almost 33,400 deaths in the overall population and 2.9 million non-fatal injuries.
Unintentional falls, a leading cause of injuries in the elderly, killed more than 15,000 people and sent another 7.8 million to hospital emergency rooms. There were an estimated 21,000 homicides and 31,000 suicides in 2001.