Georgia has a lower rate of injury-related deaths than most states, a new report finds. The state had a rate of 58.1 injury deaths...

Georgia has a lower rate of injury-related deaths than most states, a new report finds.

The state had a rate of 58.1 injury deaths per 100,000 people, slightly below the national figure of 58.4 percent, according to the report, released Wednesday by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Injuries are the leading cause of death for Americans ages 1 to 44.

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Georgia ranked 35th-highest among states for the rate of injury deaths, which include — among other things — drug overdoses, motor vehicle crashes and homicides.

Injury rates in Georgia have decreased over the past four years, the report said. And while drug overdose deaths have more than doubled in the past 14 years, the report said, Georgia ranked ninth-lowest among states in these fatalities. 

The injury rates are based on using three-year averages of the most recent data (2011-2013).

The state met five of 10 key indicators of steps that states can take to prevent injuries. Georgia achieved these five guidelines:

** Having primary seat belt laws

** Requiring child booster seats up till age 8

** Requiring bicycle helmets for children

** Having rates of child abuse and neglect at or below the national average

** Having a state law allowing prescribing and access to naloxone – a drug used to counteract overdoses – for use by laypeople

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The other five indicators involve mandatory ignition interlocks to keep drunk people from driving; restricting teenagers from late-night driving; low homicide rates; limiting deaths from falls; and monitoring of prescription drug use.

(Reuters reported that all states except Missouri now have drug-monitoring programs. But Georgia’s does not mandate that prescribers use it, according to Albert Lang of the Trust for America’s Health.)

Nationally, 29 states and Washington, D.C., scored a five or lower. New York received the highest score of nine out of a possible 10 points. Four states — Florida, Iowa, Missouri and Montana — scored the lowest, with two out of 10.

Monica Swahn, of the Georgia State University School of Public Health, said Wednesday that there are some preventive steps that Georgia “is doing really well.”

Monica Swahn

Monica Swahn

“But there’s so much more we can do,’’ Swahn said, citing requirements for ignition locks for drunk drivers as an example.

An injury, like an illness, can be prevented in many cases, said Swahn, who worked at the CDC in injury prevention for several years. “We can really put Georgia on the map as a state that’s doing a lot on injury prevention.”

Nationally, about 30 million Americans are medically treated for injuries each year, the report said.

Nearly 193,000 Americans die, nearly 2.5 million are hospitalized and more than 27 million are treated in emergency departments for injuries annually.

More than 30 percent of emergency department visits are injury-related, with falls as the leading cause  and motor vehicle crashes as the second-leading cause, the report said.

Males account for more than 80 percent of all injury deaths.

 


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Andy Miller

Andy Miller is editor and CEO of Georgia Health News

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