Monday, August 22, 2005

Emergency Room vs. BLS Occupational Injury Rates

This not so old publications looks back at the relationship between BLS data and reality. Investigator initiated research likely provides better data, even heavily modeled or extrapolated, than the BLS census-sampling approach based on employer reported data.

BrooklynDodger speculates that injuries treated in emergency departments are a more severe minority fraction of all injuries, and especially occupational injuries. Less severe and less emergent injuries would be treated in facility medical by nursing staff, diverted to industrial clinics or non-hospital urgent care facilities, or, for musculoskeletal conditions, physicians’ offices.

The most reliable result is that strain-sprain injuries dominated even this fraction of injuries.

BrooklynDodger factions with those who believe employer reports to BLS substantially undercount injuries. Somehow, the ED extrapolation is 3.3 million injuries in a year when BLS estimated 6.2. BrooklynDodger would have expected a higher BLS/ED ratio. The ED/BLS rates are a bit less divergent from expection: 2.8 for ED’s v. 7.2 for BLS, a higher ratio of BLS.
Surveillance for Nonfatal Occupational Injuries Treated in Hospital Emergency Departments -- United States, 1996
An estimated 3.3 million persons aged greater than or equal to 16 years were treated for occupational injuries in EDs in the United States during 1996, yielding an average crude annual rate of 2.8 injuries per 100 FTEs (95% CI=2.2-3.3). Physician-diagnosed sprains and strains accounted for 27% of the injuries, followed by lacerations (22%) and contusions/abrasions/hematomas (20%). Lacerations to the hands and fingers accounted for 15% of all injuries, and sprains and strains to the back, groin, and trunk accounted for an additional 12% of all cases treated in hospital EDs.

In 1996, data from the BLS annual survey show that 6.2 million injuries and illnesses occurred in the private sector, for an incidence rate of 7.4.

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