Stair-related injuries treated in United States emergency departments

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Abstract

Objective:

To investigate the characteristics of stair-related injuries among individuals of all ages and estimate national injury frequencies and rates using a representative sample of patients treated in United States emergency departments.

Methods:

Data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System were analyzed for patients treated for stair-related injuries in United States emergency departments from 1990 through 2012.

Results:

An estimated 24,760,843 patients were treated in emergency departments for a stair-related injury during the 23-year study period, averaging 1,076,558 patients annually, or 37.8 injuries per 10,000 United States residents. The annual rate of stair-related injuries decreased by 12.6% (p < 0.001) during 1990–1996, followed by an increase of 24.0% (p < 0.001) during 1996–2012. Although the highest injury rates occurred among younger children and older adults, the majority (67.2%) of emergency department visits for stair-related injuries was by individuals 11–60 years old. Most patients were female (62.4%), who also had a higher injury rate (46.5 vs. 29.1 per 10,000) than males. Sprains and strains (32.3%), soft tissue injuries (23.8%), and fractures (19.3%) were the most common types of injury. The body regions most frequently injured were the lower extremities (42.1%) and head/neck (21.6%). Patients ≤10 years old experienced more head/neck injuries. Older adult patients more frequently sustained fractures than younger age groups.

Conclusions:

Stairs are a common source of injury among individuals of all ages and the frequency and rate of stair-related injuries are increasing. This underscores the need for increased prevention efforts, particularly those related to stair design and construction.

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