Emergency departments treat 3.5 million crash victims a year

Research Activities, February 2010, No. 354

About 3.5 million motor vehicle crash victims were treated in emergency departments (EDs) in 2006 for injuries ranging from scrapes and bruises to life-threatening trauma, according to the latest data 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 to the hospital or transferred to another acute care hospital for inpatient care. About 8,000 victims died in the ED. AHRQ's analysis of motor vehicle accident victims treated in hospital EDs in 2006 also found that:

  • Thirty-seven 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, 10 percent; and head injuries accounted for 5 percent of the motor vehicle injuries seen in the ED. Other types of injuries included fractures (about 15 percent) and internal injuries of the thorax, abdomen, and pelvis (3 percent).

These data come from the report, Emergency Department Visits Associated with Motor Vehicle Accidents, 2006. The report uses statistics from the 2007 Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a database of nationally representative hospital inpatient stays in all short-term, non-Federal hospitals. The data are drawn from hospitals that comprise 90 percent of all discharges in the United States and include all patients, regardless of insurance type, as well as the uninsured. You can read the full report at http://www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/reports/statbriefs/sb84.jsp.

Current as of February 2010
Internet Citation: Emergency departments treat 3.5 million crash victims a year: Research Activities, February 2010, No. 354. February 2010. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://archive.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/feb10/0210RA26.html