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Hospital Treatment Costs for Violence Top $2 Billion Annually

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AHRQ News and Numbers

Release date: March 13, 2008

U.S. hospitals treated 308,200 people for attempted suicide, assault, rape, abuse, and other violence-related trauma in 2005 at a cost of $2.3 billion, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Although the U.S. Surgeon General has identified violence reduction as a public health priority, the number of violence-related hospitalizations increased by 24,000 between 2002 and 2005. Significant costs for violence-related admissions are passed on to hospitals and taxpayers. In 2005, roughly 23 percent of hospitalizations involved uninsured patients and 27 percent were for Medicaid enrollees.

AHRQ's new analysis of violence victims also found:

  • Roughly 66 percent of all violence-related hospital patients had attempted suicide or injured themselves on purpose; about 31 percent were victims of attempted murder, fights, rape, or other assaults; about 4 percent were victims of sexual or other abuse.
  • More than half the patients admitted for self-inflicted injuries had overdosed or mixed drugs.
  • Crushing and internal injuries, skull and facial fractures, and head injuries were the main reasons for admitting nearly half the assault victims.
  • Children accounted for nearly 52 percent of abuse cases. About one-third of those patients suffered from child neglect, physical and psychological abuse, or physical battery such as shaken child syndrome.

This AHRQ News and Numbers is based on data in Violence-Related Stays in U.S. Hospitals, 2005. The report uses statistics from the 2005 Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a database of hospital inpatient stays that is nationally representative of 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.

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

Current as of March 2008


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