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Emergency Departments Treat 3.5 Million Crash Victims a Year

AHRQ News and Numbers, January 13, 2010

AHRQ News and Numbers provides statistical highlights on the use and cost of health services and health insurance in the United States.

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:

  • 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 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).

This AHRQ News and Numbers is based on data in Emergency Department Visits Associated with Motor Vehicle Accidents, 2006. The report uses statistics from the 2006 Nationwide Emergency Department Sample, a new AHRQ database that is nationally representative of emergency department visits in all non-Federal hospitals. The Nationwide Emergency Department Sample contains 26 million records from emergency department visits from approximately 1,000 community hospitals nationwide. This represents 20 percent of all U.S. hospital emergency departments.

For other information, or to speak with an AHRQ data expert, please contact Bob Isquith at or call (301) 427-1539.

Current as of January 2010
Internet Citation: Emergency Departments Treat 3.5 Million Crash Victims a Year: AHRQ News and Numbers, January 13, 2010. January 2010. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.


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