Washington DC Injury Prevention Ranks High in National Survey

A study of injury-related deaths conducted by a national healthcare advocacy group, the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), ranks the fifty states and the District of Columbia based on ten “key indicators.” These key indicators relate to laws, regulations, and initiatives undertaken by state governments. According to TFAH, they represent the effectiveness of state efforts to prevent fatalities due to injuries.

Washington DC scored highly in the study, with seven of the ten key factors. In terms of total number of injury-related deaths per 100,000 population, the District of Columbia did not fare as well compared to many states, with a rate slightly above the national average. The study’s authors stress that they cannot say with certainty why any one state has a lower rate of injury-related fatalities than any other state, but their key factor analysis offers a good set of guidelines for assessing state efforts to promote injury prevention.

TFAH’s study, prepared with the assistance of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a philanthropic organization that supports health care, examined statistics for injury-related deaths over the past twelve or more years. It drew a distinction between injury-related deaths and deaths from both communicable and noncommunicable disease, calling injury-related deaths a serious but largely hidden public health crisis. The study divided injuries into several categories based on the type and cause of the injury, including vehicular accidents, falls, blunt-force impacts, cutting or piercing wounds, burns, poisoning, drowning or suffocation, gunshot wounds, and “unclassified.” TFAH developed its list of key factors based largely on the cause of injury, such as accident or intentional violence.

Nationwide, injury-related deaths occur at an average annual rate of 57.9 per 100,000 people. Washington DC’s rate is slightly above this average at 60.2, placing it twenty-ninth among the states. New Mexico placed “first” with 97.8 deaths per 100,000, and New Jersey placed fifty-first with the lowest rate, 36.1. The score for Washington DC’s injury prevention indicators was better. DC joined nine states scoring a seven out of ten. Five states had eight key indicators, and two had nine. No state had all ten key indicators.

Washington DC’s seven key indicators were:

1. Mandatory seat belt laws;
2. Helmet requirements for motorcyclists;
3. Booster seat requirements for children up to eight years old;
4. Mandatory bicycle helmets for children;
5. Laws permitting protective orders for “dating violence,” meaning protective orders are not restricted to married couples;
6. An “A” score in a legal review of teen dating violence by the group Break the Cycle (only six states besides Washington DC received an “A” in this study); and

7. Laws addressing the issue of concussions in youth sports.

The key indicators included in the study that Washington DC lacked involved mandatory interlock devices for all drivers with DUI convictions, a monitoring program for prescription drugs to prevent medication errors and abuse, and use of an external coding system for more than ninety percent of hospital discharges involving injuries. This last indicator can help advocacy groups and government agencies track rates of injuries within and between states, allowing them to make improvements in both injury prevention and treatment.

The Washington, DC personal injury lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen help people injured due to the negligence or unlawful conduct of others to recover their just compensation. For a free and confidential consultation, contact us today online or at (800) 654-1949.

Web Resources:

The Facts Hurt: A State-By-State Injury Prevention Policy Report (PDF), The Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, May 2012
2010 State Law Report Card: District of Columbia, Break the Cycle

More Blog Posts:

Study Scores States on Injury Prevention, Ranking Maryland High, Maryland Accident Law Blog, June 7, 2012
The Death of a Young Baseball Player and the Lack of Statistics on Youth Sports Injuries, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, May 10, 2012
DC Personal Injury Accidents are a Common Cause of Brain Injury, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, March 31, 2011

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