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CDC: U.S. Traffic Accidents Send 2.5 Million to ERs Each Year

Medical costs of those collisions top $18 billion, U.S. government estimates

TUESDAY, Oct. 7, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Road crash injuries sent more than 2.5 million Americans to emergency departments in 2012. And, nearly 200,000 were hospitalized due to motor vehicle collisions, according to the Oct. 7 Vital Signs report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The authors of the report found that lifetime medical expenses for those crash injuries totaled $18 billion. That includes $10 billion for those admitted to hospital and $8 billion for patients treated in emergency departments and released. Work lost over a lifetime due to crash-related injuries in 2012 cost about $33 billion. The average lifetime cost of each crash-related emergency department visit was $3,300, and $57,000 for each hospitalization. More than 75 percent of costs occur during the first 18 months after the injury.

Teens and young adults -- aged 15 to 29 -- have a much higher risk for road crash injuries and accounted for nearly one million of such injuries in 2012 (38 percent). On the other end of the age spectrum, people older than 80 had the highest hospitalization rates. One-third of those over 80 injured in crashes ended up hospitalized.

There was some good news in the report. There were nearly 400,000 fewer emergency department visits and 5,700 fewer hospitalizations for crash-related injuries in 2012 than in 2002. According to the authors, this resulted in $1.7 billion less in lifetime medical costs and $2.3 billion less in lifetime lost work costs.

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