Over 1,000 patients in US admitted yearly for aviation-related injuries

Technology.am (Dec. 01, 2009) — The first ever published study of aviation-related injuries and deaths in the U.S. finds that over 1,013 patients are admitted to U.S. hospitals with aviation-related injuries yearly, and that 753 aviation-deaths take place yearly.

aviation-relatedThe study, conducted by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for Injury Research and Policy and Columbia University, in addition reports that the major categories of patients were occupants of civilian, noncommercial powered aircraft (32 percent) and parachutists (29 percent). For aircraft occupants and parachutists, lower limb fractures were the most frequent injury, about 27 percent of all hospitalized injuries. While burns were seen in only 2.5 percent of patients, they were accountable for 13 percent of deaths. The report is in print in the December issue of Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine.

“Our findings offer significant information, not formerly available, on the figure and kinds of injuries sustained in aviation-related events,” said lead author Susan P. Baker, professor with the Injury Center. “Because several injuries can be prevented through changes in the composition of aircraft, these data should be used to identify desirable improvements in aircraft design. For instance, the high numbers of lower limb fractures advise modifications must be considered to the different structures expected to be contacted by the feet and legs when a crash occurs.”

The researchers analyzed information from the nationwide inpatient sample (NIS), a data system sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality that contains information for about 20 percent of all hospital admissions in the U.S. Using the International Classification of Diseases, 9th edition, codes for air transport accidents were used to recognize patients who were hospitalized for aviation-related injuries throughout 2000-2005. Aviation-related deaths were recognized using International Classification of Diseases, 10th edition. The allotment of aviation-injuries was calculated by victim type, discharge status and duration of stay.

“Unlike the extremely successful observation system for all aviation crashes and incidents in the military, there is no official injury reporting structure for civil aviation crashes,” said Dennis F. Shanahan, MD, MPH, an adjunct faculty member with the Bloomberg School’s Department of Health Policy and Management. “Consequently, it is hard to recognize problems in particular aircraft or to approximate the possibility of planned improvements.

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