FIGURE 5-1 Cost of injury by class of injury in the United States, 1985.

Source: Rice et al., 1989.

result of injuries; an additional 54 million sustain injuries requiring outpatient medical care or resulting in one or more days of restricted activity without medical attention (Rice et al., 1989). These figures translate into 16 injury-caused hospitalizations for every death due to injury in the United States. Moreover, for every injury death an additional 381 people sustain less severe injuries that do not require hospitalization.

A one-year accounting of the economic costs associated with the estimated 57 million people who sustain nonfatal injuries in the United States provides some perspective on the enormity of the problem. Rice and colleagues (1989) estimate that about $108 million, or two-thirds of the total cost of all injuries incurred in 1985, could be attributed to nonfatal injuries (Figure 5-1). Nearly 60 percent of these costs result from reduced or forgone productivity—the market value of lost work and housekeeping days due to permanent or temporary disability. Another way to assess this cost is to tabulate lost time from work or other productive activity, a measure known as life years lost. For every 100 injuries in a given year, the contributions of 9 life years are lost in the same year. The bulk of this loss is attributable to the high incidence of injury and injury-caused disabling conditions among people between the ages of 15 and 44, which encompasses the most productive period of the human life span. Injuries sustained by people in this age group in 1985 resulted in 2.7 million life years lost, or $44 billion in lost productivity.

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