A study released by the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), a nonprofit health care policy organization based in Washington, D.C. scores all fifty states and the District of Columbia on their success at implementing recommended programs to prevent injury-related deaths. It also ranks the states and D.C. on the total number of annual deaths from injuries. Maryland scored highly with eight of ten “key indicators” for effective injury prevention. The national average for injury-related deaths is 57.9 per 100,000 people. It ranked Maryland 37th among the states, with 56.1 fatal injuries per 100,000 people.
The study, entitled “The Facts Hurt: A State-By-State Injury Prevention Policy Report,” was conducted by TFAH with the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a philanthropic organization that supports health care. TFAH sought to bring attention to injury-related deaths, which it called an overlooked but major problem in American public health. Injuries, according to the study, rank third among causes of death for all Americans, and they are the number one cause among people aged one to forty-four. The study directly contrasts deaths from injuries with deaths due to communicable diseases like influenza and noncommunicable diseases like cancer. The lifetime costs of the injuries that occur in a single year in the U.S. now exceed $406 billion, including both medical expenses and lost productivity.
TFAH reviewed injuries resulting from violence, vehicular crashes, falls, drowning, suffocation, fires, poisoning, and other accidents. It classified injuries in groups like blunt-force trauma, cutting or piercing injuries, burns, firearm injuries, suffocation or drowning, and “unclassified” injuries. Finally, it identified ten “key indicators” for a state’s effectiveness at injury prevention:
1. Seat belt laws;
2. Required interlock devices for drunk-driving offenders;
3. Mandatory helmets for motorcycle riders;
4. Mandatory car seats for children under eight;
5. Bicycle helmet requirements for children;
6. Availability of protective orders for people in dating relationships;
7. Top scores in the organization Break the Cycle’s review of laws covering dating violence among teenagers;
8. Laws addressing prevention of concussions in youth sports;
9. Programs to monitor prescription drug abuse; and
10. Use of “external cause-of-injury coding” in at least ninety percent of hospital discharges for injury cases, to facilitate tracking and monitoring of injury data.
Maryland scored an eight out of ten, putting the state in the second ranking group along with North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington. Two states, California and New York, scored a nine. No states had all ten key indicators. The lowest-scoring states were Montana and Ohio, with two of ten.
The only two key indicators missing in Maryland were number 2, mandatory interlock devices; and number 7, an “A” score in the Break the Cycle report. Maryland received a “C” in the most recent study, conducted in 2010.
In the rankings of total injury-related deaths, Maryland ranked below the national average. New Jersey had the lowest rate of deaths with 36.1 per 100,000 population. New Mexico had the highest rate with 97.8. The study did not reach a particular conclusion as to what accounts for a particularly low or high rate in any given state, but its key indicator analysis is a useful guide for evaluating a state’s safety initiatives.
The Maryland accident injury lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen are skilled at pursuing justice for people injured in accidents. Contact us today online or at (800) 654-1949 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.
The Facts Hurt: A State-By-State Injury Prevention Policy Report (PDF), Trust for America’s Health, May 2012
2010 State Law Report Card (PDF), Break the Cycle
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