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Injuries cost hospitals $20 billion annually

U.S. hospitals spend roughly $20 billion each year to treat the nearly 2 million Americans injured seriously enough to require inpatient care, according to a new report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Medicare and Medicaid are billed for almost half of all injury cases, and more than 12 percent of hospital stays of injured patients are uninsured. The Federal report also found:

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

For more information, see Frequency and Costs of Hospital Admissions for Injury, 2004, HCUP Statistical Brief #18 and Common Injuries that Result in Hospitalizations 2004, HCUP Statistical Brief #19 at

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