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

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Abstract

Background

Sports-related injuries in adolescents incur a significant amount of hospital resources. Sports-related injuries are not an uncommon cause of ED visit; however, national estimates of such injuries in teenagers are unknown.

Objectives

The aim of this study was to identify and characterize emergency department (ED) visits that result from sports-related injuries among teenagers across the United States. This study describes the outcomes associated with sports-related injuries necessitating ED visits among teenagers at a national level.

Study Design

This is a descriptive epidemiology study.

Methods

The 2008 Nationwide Emergency Department Sample data set, the largest all-payer health care database in the United States, was used to identify ED visits with external cause of injury related to sports occurring in patients aged 13 through 19 years. Outcomes examined included discharge status after the ED visit and presence of concomitant injuries. Descriptive statistics was used to summarize the estimates. Nationwide representative estimates were computed using the discharge weight variable.

Results

There were 432,609 ED visits by those between the ages of 13 and 19 years who experienced sports-related injuries, with total charges close to $447.4 million, with a mean total per-visit charge of $1205. The male patients accounted for 76.8% of the total ED visits. The most frequently occurring injuries were superficial injury or contusion (n = 118,250 ED visits); sprains and strains (n = 105,476); fracture of the upper limb (n = 63,151); open wounds of the head, the neck, and the trunk (n = 46,176); as well as intracranial injury (n = 30,726). Close to 29% of all ED visits occurred among those residing in geographical areas with median household income levels of greater than $64,000. After the ED visit, 1.6% were admitted to the same hospital, with a mean length of stay of 2.4 days and a mean hospital charge for ED visit and inpatient services of $22,703. The male patients composed 87.5% of the hospitalizations. The total of hospitalization charges across the entire United States was $154.8 million.

Conclusions

Sports injuries account for a substantial number of 2008 teenage ED visits in the United States. Patient- and hospital-level characteristics were analyzed and highlighted.

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