Researchers Say Hospitals Should Track Workplace Injuries

Researchers say that a small change in the way hospitals record data could have a big impact on preventing occupational safety and health hazards. The researchers, from Drexel University’s School of Health, say that recording industry and occupation data for injuries will supply valuable information that can help health care professionals and industry decision-makers learn more about how and why workplace accidents happen and how best to prevent them.

There are nearly 4 million workplace injuries each year, but hospitals in the United States currently do not track or record these accidents. Instead, the estimated number of workplace injuries comes from probability samples, which may underestimate the actual number of injuries. Such estimates also lack crucial details about how injuries happen that would be extremely helpful in prevention efforts.

The researchers proposed the data collection practice in an article in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. The authors point out the benefits of collecting occupational and industry data and describe coding standards and other processes that could be used. They point out that the change would not be cost-intensive, since existing federal standard codes could simply be added to hospital discharge data. A program at Michigan State University tracked amputations that involved workplace injuries and led to the discovery of workplace hazards.

The data collection proposal came out of the work of the Firefighter Injury Research and Safety Trends project at Drexel University, which is working toward a comprehensive system for recording information about injuries to firefighters.

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