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Injuries Cost Hospitals $20 Billion

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AHRQ News and Numbers

Release date: November 29, 2006

U.S. hospitals spend roughly $20 billion annually to treat the nearly 2 million Americans injured seriously enough to require inpatient care, according to a new report by the Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Medicare and Medicaid are billed for nearly half of all injury cases, and more than 12 percent of injured patients' hospital stays are uninsured.

The Federal report also found:

  • Broken bones—including fractures of the hip, leg, spine, rib and pelvis, arm, and skull—are the number one type of injury leading to hospitalizations. Together they account for nearly 1 million admissions each year.
  • Poisonings—overdosing on medications or substances, or receiving the wrong drug—are the second most-common cause of injury hospitalizations. They account for about a quarter-million cases annually.
  • Brain injuries—186,000 patients are admitted each year—are the most deadly. One-in-10 such patients dies in the hospital. Other deadly injuries, measured by their in-hospital death rates, are spinal cord injuries (5.7 percent), burns and crushing or internal injuries (about 4 percent each), and hip fractures (2.9 percent).
  • The most frequent cause of injury is falls (38 percent of injury-related hospital stays). Falls account for nearly 475,000 admissions annually and for 68 percent of all injury-related hospitalizations in patients age 65 years and older.
  • Other leading causes of injury hospitalizations include motor vehicle crashes, head or body blows, cutting or piercing wounds, other transportation-related mishaps—such as those involving off-road vehicles, horseback riding, and boats—and gunshots.

This AHRQ News & Numbers summary is based on findings in Common Injuries that Result in Hospitalizations, 2004, HCUP Statistical Brief No. 19 and Frequency and Costs of Hospital Admissions for Injury, 2004, HCUP Statistical Brief No. 18 (PDF Help).

To speak with the lead AHRQ author of these reports, or for information from previous AHRQ News and Numbers summaries, contact Bob Isquith at or call (301) 427-1539.

Current as of November 2006


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