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HANGAR TALK
More Than 1,000 Patients In U.S. Admitted Annually
For Aviation-Related Injuries
Source: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
The first ever published study of avia-
tion-related injuries and deaths in the U.S.
finds an average of 1,013 patients are ad-
mitted to U.S. hospitals with aviation-re-
lated injuries annually, and that an average
of 753 aviation-deaths occur each year. The
study, conducted by researchers from the
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Pub-
lic Health’s Center for Injury Research and
Policy and Columbia University, also re-
ports that the largest categories of patients
were occupants of civilian, noncommercial
powered aircraft (32 percent) and para-
chutists (29 percent). For aircraft occupants
as well as parachutists, lower limb fractures
were the most common injury, encom-
passing 27 percent of all hospitalized in-
juries. While burns were seen in only 2.5
percent of patients, they were responsible
for 13 percent of deaths. The report is pub-
lished in the December issue of Aviation,
Space, and Environmental Medicine.
“Our findings provide valuable infor-
mation, not previously available, on the
number and kinds of injuries sustained in
aviation-related events,” said lead author
Susan P. Baker, professor with the Injury
Center. “Because many injuries can be
prevented through changes in the structure
of aircraft, these data should be used to
recognize needed improvements in aircraft
design. For example, the high numbers of
lower limb fractures suggest modifications
should be considered to the various struc-
tures likely to be contacted by the feet and
legs when a crash occurs.”
The researchers analyzed data from the
nationwide inpatient sample (NIS), a data
system sponsored by the Agency for
Healthcare Research and Quality that con-
tains information for approximately 20
percent of all hospital admissions in the type, discharge status and length of stay. lems in particular aircraft or to estimate
U.S. Using the International Classification “Unlike the highly effective surveil- the feasibility of proposed improvements.
of Diseases, 9th edition, codes for air lance system for all aviation crashes and It is our strong recommendation that a
transport accidents were used to identify incidents in the military, there is no for- group such as the National Transportation
patients who were hospitalized for avia- mal injury reporting structure for civil avi- Safety Board or FAA establish a program
tion-related injuries during 2000-2005. ation crashes,” said Dennis F. Shanahan, modeled after the military or the report-
Aviation-related deaths were identified us- MD, MPH, an adjunct faculty member ing system of the National Highway Traf-
ing International Classification of Dis- with the Bloomberg School’s Department fic Safety Administration so we can
eases, 10th edition. The distribution of of Health Policy and Management. “Con- ultimately reduce the number of aviation-
aviation-injuries was calculated by victim sequently, it is difficult to identify prob- related injuries and deaths.”

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