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School of Medicine, Department of Public Safety establish database to analyze medical costs of injury from vehicular crashes

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Allows for better understanding of the impact of crashes on human life, cost of care to medical facilities and the state economy

The University of Nevada School of Medicine and the Nevada Department of Public Safety, Office of Traffic Safety have established a statewide database of medical and crash scene information regarding traffic related injuries, deaths in Nevada. This data helps to identify opportunities for legislation and injury prevention.

The Nevada Department of Public Safety, Office of Traffic Safety awarded a grant to the University of Nevada School of Medicine to establish a database combining scene crash data with trauma hospital data, the first of its kind in the State of Nevada. This allows analysis of an injured patient from the crash scene to a patient’s hospital discharge. This integrated information allows for better understanding of the impact of crashes on human life, as well as the cost of care to medical facilities and the state economy.

In 2011 Nevada Motor Vehicle Crash records from 2005-2010 were linked to Nevada trauma records from the four Nevada trauma centers: University Medical Center of Southern Nevada, Renown Regional Medical Center, St. Rose Dominican Hospital and Sunrise Medical Center in order to create a unique database that includes crash scene data and hospital information.

“This linked dataset allows us to determine who comes into Nevada’s trauma centers by identifying patient demographics and the geographic location of crashes,” said Deborah Kuhls, M.D., trauma surgeon at the University of Nevada School of Medicine and University Medical Center of Southern Nevada and principal investigator for this project.

According to Kuhls, the pre-hospital crash data adds information on crash location and other important crash details as well as use of safety devices and other behavioral information that may relate to the crash itself and severity of injury.

“From that information, we can identify opportunities to educate injured patients and their families as well as the public in order to decrease behaviors that contribute to significant vehicular-related injuries,” she said.

“This unique database also supports agencies and health care providers that formulate and introduce legislation in support of safe traffic laws and allows for access to federal grant funding to enact that legislation.”

The data is compiled into a bi-monthly newsletter, TREND, which reports on types of vehicular crashes that represent the greatest threats to life and livelihood in Nevada.

“We are also able to differentiate urban versus rural crashes and identify individual behaviors that when identified may create an opportunity to educate and change behavior after recovery,” Kuhls added. Examples include use of safety devices such as safety belts and helmets, speed, use of alcohol and other substances that predispose residents and visitors to injury.

Examples of crash pattern facts supported by the data include:

• Statewide, when alcohol or drug use was not present, motorcycle helmet use was 66.2 percent. When alcohol or drug use was present, helmet use dropped to 57.7 percent. The average hospital charges when alcohol or drugs were not present were $68,734 as compared to the $84,004 ($15,630 or 22.7 percent higher) when alcohol or drugs were present.
• Crash records from 2005-2010 catalogued 6,096 pedestrians involved in Nevada crashes. Of those involved in crashes, 2,938 were admitted to Nevada trauma centers and of those, 24.8 percent had no insurance. The average hospital cost for uninsured pedestrians involved in a traffic crash was $88,767.
• Patients wearing a seatbelt had average hospital charges of $52,555. Patients not wearing a seatbelt were more severely injured and had average hospital charges of $96,884, or 84 percent higher hospital costs.

For more information, please visit www.ctsr.org or contact Dr. Deborah Kuhls at [email protected]

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