Objectives Understand the origins and evolution of the science of injury prevention. Discuss the challenges and limitations of developing a comprehensive injury prevention program. Describe two ongoing examples of contemporary injury prevention programs. Introduction Traumatic injury ranks among the deadliest and costliest burdens in medicine today. Among patients ages 1–44, it is the most common cause of death, and ranks as the third leading cause of death for all ages. In the United States, injuries account for 30% of total years of life lost due to disease, as well as 42 million emergency department visits and 2 million hospital admissions (see Chapter 1). The estimated total costs for trauma-related injuries is $406 billion annually. Despite these staggering statistics, trauma has been historically underappreciated. Until as recently as half a century ago, injuries were considered to be “accidents” - unfortunate, capricious events attributable either to God or to human malice. Accordingly, these accidents were felt to be preventable only through prayer and improving human morals. The role of rigorous scientific analysis and systematic intervention was generally ignored. Today, trauma prevention is vital to any mature trauma and public health system. Anywhere between one-third and one-half of all trauma deaths occur in the field and are considered nonsurvivable.
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