Epidemiology of Hospital-Based
Emergency Department Visits Due to Sports Injuries

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.     

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.    

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?
by: Nicole Cattano
by: Jeffrey Driban

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Nalliah RP, Anderson IM, Lee MK, Rampa S, Allareddy V, & Allareddy V (2014). Epidemiology of Hospital-Based Emergency Department Visits Due to Sports Injuries. Pediatric Emergency Care, 30 (8), 511-515 PMID: 25062295