Injuries are the third leading cause of death in the United States. Unintentional injuries, suicides and homicides accounted for 199,756 fatal injuries in 2014. In addition to loss of life, the national cost associated with these injuries totaled $227 billion, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).*
Cost estimates include medical costs (calculated for various costs associated with injuries; e.g., hospital visits and emergency transportation) and lost productivity (calculated by estimating lost earnings and life expectancy) associated with fatal injuries.
Unintentional injuries—like those resulting from motor vehicle crashes, prescription drug overdoses, traumatic brain injuries and older adult falls—are responsible for a large share of deaths. In fact, unintentional injuries are the No. 1 cause of death for people ages 1 to 44. These injuries create a substantial economic burden for individuals, families and states. The costs of treating fatal injuries and lost productivity by state range anywhere from $261 to $815 per capita, with total costs between $194 million and $12.1 billion per year.
Many unintentional injuries are avoidable, and policymakers have turned their attention toward prevention strategies. For example, lawmakers have adopted the following strategies to combat prescription opioid overdose, motor vehicle crashes and older adult falls, which are some of the most frequent causes of fatal injuries.
- Created prescription drug monitoring programs to track prescriptions for controlled substances.
- Established state guidelines for providers who prescribe opioids.
- Improved access to naloxone, which counters the effects of an overdose.
- Implemented policies to reduce distracted driving and cellphone use in motor vehicles.
- Required child safety seats and seat belt use.
- Promoted awareness of, and created statewide prevention plans for, older adult falls.
- Provided incentives to primary care providers to integrate falls risk assessment and fall prevention activities into their practices.
*Estimates do not include nonfatal injuries, which cost more than $457 billion in the U.S. in 2013. Source: Luo F, Florence C. State-Level Lifetime Medical and Work-Loss Costs of Fatal Injuries—United States, 2014. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2017;66:1–11.
* Per capita cost of unintentional fatal injuries is the per person lifetime costs (lifetime costs divided by the state population).
Source: Luo F, Florence C. State-Level Lifetime Medical and Work-Loss Costs of Fatal Injuries - United States, 2014.
MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2017;66:1-11. DOI: http://dx.doi.org /10.15585/mmwr.mm6601a1