There’s no question injuries have a negative impact on Ohio’s health and on Ohioans pocketbooks.
In one year, Ohioans spend $1.5 billion on medical costs related to injuries and $28.4 billion on work loss and quality of life loss related to injuries. In addition to costing our state billions, unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death and disability for Ohioans ages 1 through 44 and the fifth-leading cause of death for all Ohioans. Non-fatal injuries and violence also lead to an average of eight hospitalizations per hour and three emergency department visits every minute in Ohio.
It only takes a moment for an injury to happen – a fall on a stair, a moment’s glance away from the road, a biking or sports-related injury or a medication mix-up.
As we wrap up National Public Health Week April 11, it’s important to remember that safety is no accident. We can prevent injuries from happening by taking small actions. For example wearing a seatbelt, properly installing and using child safety seats, wearing a helmet and using prescription medications only as they are prescribed are important ways to proactively promote safety and prevent injuries.
Over the past 10 years, the overall number of injury-related deaths in Ohio has increased by 44 percent.* ODH is working to address this issue is in many ways. Through the Violence and Injury Prevention program, ODH funds community-based injury prevention programs in nine counties to address falls among older adults, child injury and prescription drug overdose. ODH also has a statewide child passenger safety program, providing car seats to low income families in all 88 counties.
In addition, we have created a statewide public-private action group called the Ohio Injury Prevention Partnership (OIPP). Through the OIPP, we are building Ohio’s capacity to help every Ohioan live his or her life to its fullest potential by reducing death and disability associated with intentional and unintentional injury. The work of the OIPP is critical to reversing the impact of injury on our state. One focus area of the OIPP is unintentional drug overdoses, which surpassed motor vehicle traffic and suicide as the overall leading cause of injury death in Ohio in 2007 and continued in 2008.
An average of four Ohioans die each day from unintentional drug overdoses and prescription drugs are associated with more of these deaths than heroin and cocaine combined. In addition to the impact on communities and families, these preventable deaths cost our state an estimated $3.5 billion each year. ODH, in coordination with our federal, state and local partners, has and will continue to work to raise awareness and educate the public about the state’s overdose epidemic.
While unintentional drug overdoses are the leading cause of injury death, there are many other injuries that impact the well-being of our state. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death and hospitalization for older adults. Many older adults believe that experiencing a fall is a natural part of the aging process. It’s not, you can prevent falls by removing environmental hazards, having your eyes checked regularly and increasing your physical activity.
In children, suffocations, motor vehicle crashes and falls are some of the leading causes of hospitalizations and death. These can be prevented by providing a safe sleep area for your child, ensuring child safety seats are properly installed and that your child wears a helmet when participating in wheeled sports.
For teens and young adults age 15 to 24, motor vehicle crashes are the leading causes of death and hospitalizations. However, these crashes can be prevented by ensuring your teens know safe driving rules, including not driving while distracted or while texting.
Following these tips can help you live injury-free in all areas of life: at work, at home, at play, in your community and anywhere people are on the move.
Ted Wymyslo, M.D. is director of the Ohio Department of Health.
*Data is from 1999-2008. 2008 is the most recent year complete data are available."