1. Evans, Tracy RN, MS, MPH, MBA, EMT-P
  2. Lor, Jennifer d, BA, EMT-I

Article Content

Degutis LC, Greve M. Injury prevention. Emerg Med Clin N Am, 2006;24:871-888.


Injuries are the leading cause of death for ages 1-44 and the fourth leading cause of death overall. In fact, injuries, poisonings, and adverse effects of medical treatment constituted 39.2 million emergency department visits in 2002. Injuries fall into 2 categories: intentional and unintentional. Unintentional injuries account for two thirds of injury deaths. Motor vehicle crashes and their resultant injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are the leading cause of deaths for ages 1-34. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also points to falls as the most common cause of injuries that require a visit to the emergency department. But the cause of falls varies by age and demographics. Collecting and evaluating data on all injuries are the only way to identify problems and develop prevention programs to reach the at-risk population.


Authors Degutis and Greve have pointed out that there are multiple data sources for collecting injury surveillance data and many are now readily available on the Internet. The article lists many data repositories and discusses some of their benefits and shortcomings. The authors also caution that there are problems inherent in using different sources for data because of the variability in data systems, data definitions, and timeliness of data availability. In some cases, the data are incomplete, and using too few sources can paint an inaccurate picture. With the development and success of the electronic medical record, data collection is much more standardized and timely. With the previous method of collection, handwritten and manual entry, the risk of interpretation by individual readers was problematic.


Trauma nurses need to be vigilant in the research and use of data to ensure that the data presented are an accurate reflection of the disease of the injury. Injury surveillance data are a vital component of the multidisciplinary effort of injury prevention. It has been used to effect changes in legislation and in the development of injury prevention programs for targeted community prevention efforts. The trauma nurse must lead the efforts to find and collect the data and the funds to develop grassroots injury prevention programs. Knowing that injury prevention programs are effective and proving so are our challenges as healthcare providers. Demonstrating that our programs work is the key to winning much-needed dollars and data surveillance is the path (25 references).