Epidemiology of Hospital-Based Emergency Department Visits Due to Sports Injuries
Nalliah RP, Anderson IM, Lee MK, Rampa S, Allareddy V, & Allareddy V. Pediatric Emergency Care. 2014 30(8):511 - 515.
Take Home Message: Sports-related injuries among teenagers accounts for over 430,000 emergency room visits in the United States in 2008 and represent a significant financial burden to the healthcare system.
Sports-related injuries in teenagers result in a significant number of emergency room visits, which can result in relatively large direct costs. However, little is known about national estimates of how many emergency room visits actually occur as well as the direct costs affiliated with this. The authors of this retrospective research study analyzed the 2008 Nationwide Emergency Department Sample data set for patient variables (e.g., age, sex, type of injury) among patients aged 13 to 19 years who visited an emergency room for a sports-related injury. In 2008, there were over 430,000 emergency room visits by patients aged 13 to 19 for sports-related injuries. Almost 80% of the injuries were reported to be caused by being struck without falling. The sports-related injuries that caused emergency room visits typically occurred during the week (71%) and most commonly in males (76%). 97% of the emergency room visits for sports-related injuries were routinely discharged. The most common diagnoses were superficial injuries or contusions (27.3%) and sprain/strains (24.4%). Total direct costs affiliated with the healthcare for these sports-related injuries in teenagers were over $447 million.
The authors showed that emergency room visits for sports-related injuries are common and an extreme burden on the healthcare industry. Interestingly, over half of the injuries seen are non-emergent. The authors note that they do not gather detailed information regarding mechanism of injury or sport type. If athletic trainers were available at all sporting events and even possibly in the emergency room setting, we may be able to help lower the large costs affiliated with sports-related injuries. It would have been interesting if the authors could have discovered whether any of these athletes were seen by an athletic trainer or another clinician prior to their decision to go to the emergency room. This data set also did not include whether the sports-related injury occurred during an organized athletic event or a recreational athletic event. It would be interesting to see what the results would look like if it were conducted on 2013 emergency room visits - as athletic trainers have gained respect within the sports medicine community over the years, more people are participating in organized sports, and evidence based practice rules are becoming more common (e.g., Ottawa Ankle Rules). Far too often parents or athletes are in search of immediate answers, which may prompt an emergency room visit. The $447 million figure only accounts for the direct health care costs associated with an emergency room visits. These patients are likely being referred to orthopedists for follow up diagnoses, and quite possibly physical therapists to rehabilitate the injury. This means the total costs may be even higher. Athletic trainers are a key healthcare provider that may help mitigate costs as well as improve health care decisions.
Questions for Discussion: What do you think the college aged population would look like in terms of emergency room visits for sports-related injuries? Are there any strategies that you think would work to try to minimize needless emergency room visits for sports-related injuries?
Written by: Nicole Cattano
Reviewed by: Jeffrey Driban
Related Posts:Variability in Instructions Given for Pediatric Concussion Care in an Emergency Room