NSC Supports Uniform Injury Data Collection System

Oct. 14, 2008
The National Safety Council (NSC) announced support for national use of external cause of injury coding (E-codes) to capture injury-related, off-the-job hospital admission data.

“Without knowing the specific cause of an injury, it is difficult for safety and health professionals to develop effective injury-prevention or safety promotion strategies and programs. At present, there is no required system in place in half the states to document how an injury occurred,” said Janet Froetscher, NSC president & CEO.

“For instance, if a person goes to a hospital with a broken arm, a hospital representative may ask where the injury happened (home, bike path, traffic crash, etc.) but is not required to document that information. This is a missed opportunity, given the high cost of injuries in both human and economic terms,” Froetscher said. “It is critical that we get a handle on this information. In 2006, unintentional injuries and their related expenses cost this nation more than $652 billion dollars. Many of these injuries could be prevented if we could document their scope and develop effective interventions.”

Froetscher concluded, “This National Safety Council policy recommends that all states require external cause of injury data be recorded in hospital records for all admissions and that it be used across the medical industry.”

With the policy, NSC joins a coalition of organizations seeking to develop a nationwide strategy for the uniform use of E-codes.

Ileana Arias, Ph.D., director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, spoke in favor of the new policy. CDC and NSC are partners in injury prevention.

“Each year, one in six Americans seeks medical attention for an injury,” Arias said. “If we hope to prevent or reduce injuries, we need reliable information on the external causes of injuries.”

Representatives of NSC’s 50,000 member organizations adopted this policy statement recently at their annual meeting in Anaheim, Calif.:

In order to effect a change in the escalating injury and death rate, a safety management process is needed and the core of this process is injury causation data. A formal system (E-Coding) currently exists that captures injury causation data. If “E-coding” becomes a standard within the United States, it will provide an opportunity to use the traditional safety management model to identify, evaluate and develop corrective actions for injury prevention.

The full policy statement policy statement is available on the NSC Web site, http://nsc.org.

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