KIPRC Promotes Trauma Awareness
Media Contact: Mary Colliver
LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 25, 2010) − More than 330,951 adults and children visited emergency departments in Kentucky in 2008 resulting in 24,868 inpatient hospitalizations and 2,997 deaths due to injuries. Injuries are the number one cause of death for Kentucky residents from the ages of 1 to age 44.
Recognizing the need for trauma awareness, President Ronald Reagan declared the month of May as Trauma Awareness Month more than 20 years ago but the message continues to be just as important today.
"This is an opportunity to focus on Kentucky’s burden of traumatic injury and how our state is addressing it," said Terry L Bunn, director of the Kentucky Injury Prevention Center (KIPRC). Injuries are the leading reason for emergency department visits in Kentucky hospitals and account for 1 out of every 5 emergency department visits. The top five injuries treated in the emergency department are due to falls, being struck by or against something, motor vehicle collisions, overexertion, and natural and environmental causes including venomous animals and plants, injuries caused by animals, lightning, storms, or earth movements.
In Kentucky, the local health department serving the area with the highest number of injuries is the Louisville Metro Health Department followed by the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department, Bunn said. Northern Kentucky District Health Department serves the broadest service area with the most emergency department visits for injuries. Other district health departments serving broad areas of the state with elevated numbers of emergency department visits due to injuries are the Lake Cumberland District Health Department, the Lincoln Trail District Health Department, and the Barren River District Health Department.
"Kentucky has only four hospitals that meet national criteria for recognition as trauma centers," said Julia Costich, former director of KIPRC. "The lack of a coordinated trauma care system affects the odds of dying from a major traumatic injury in Kentucky. If you are injured in a motor vehicle crash in Lexington or Louisville, close to a Level I trauma center, you could be three times more likely to survive than if you are similarly injured in one of Kentucky’s more rural counties, far from definitive trauma care."
In 2008, Kentucky’s General Assembly enacted a statute authorizing the establishment of a statewide trauma system and a trauma advisory council. No funds were appropriated to support system development, but a small amount has been raised through donations and a grant from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, Costich said. This seed money will support the development of trauma reporting systems in as many as 10 small rural hospitals over the next two years.
"Trauma system development can contribute to improved survival rates and lower levels of residual disability from traumatic injuries, but the big payoff for Kentucky lies in preventing them from happening in the first place,” Bunn said.
May is not only trauma awareness month, it is also graduation month. "We hope that as young people celebrate their accomplishments they also will remember to be safe," said Kenelle Sweet, a nurse and trauma outreach coordinator at the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital, a Level 1 trauma center. "Put your cell phone away, anything you need to say or text can wait and if it can’t, pull over and park your car," she said. "Texting while driving is not only dangerous it is illegal in the state of Kentucky now. As a matter of fact, usage of a cell phone by anyone under the age of 18 while driving is illegal."
KIPRC is a unique partnership between the Kentucky Department for Public Health and the University of Kentucky, compiles data on injuries throughout the state and practices public health functions in the area of injury prevention.
Resources, data, and help are available by contacting KIPRC at 859-257-4954 or go to Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center. For more information about the UK Chandler Hospital Level 1 trauma center, go to UK HealthCare Emergency Medicine.