Background: National estimates of injury prevalence in the Emergency Department (ED) are based on medical record review and vary considerably. By using a more robust approach to surveillance, we (1) determine the prevalence of injury of any type in an urban ED population and (2) explore the association between violence-related injury and personal characteristics of injury victims.
Methods: This cross-sectional study was performed at an urban level I trauma center from June to August, 2005. We prospectively screened 4,246 consecutive ED patients for injury during a randomized schedule of shifts totaling 336 hours. The ED record of each injured patient was reviewed to catalogue injury type and intent (International Classification of External Causes of Injury, Short Form) as well as to estimate injury severity (New Injury Severity Score). We interviewed noncritically injured, adult patients who provided consent to collect demographic (race, income, and education) and personal information (substance abuse, domestic violence, handgun ownership, and homelessness). We sought independent associations between these variables and violence-related injury in an exploratory analysis using multivariate logistic regression.
Results: Injury contributed to 1,036 of 4,246 ED visits (24.4%, 95% confidence interval [CI], 23.1–25.7%). Eleven percent of injured patients were admitted to the hospital and two patients died in the ED. The majority of patients (75%) suffered minor injury. Among the 434 injured patients consenting to interview, the prevalence of established injury risk factors, such as substance use or handgun ownership, varied by gender. The adjusted odds of violence-related injury among this subset of patients were increased for males (odds ratio [OR], 2.22; 95% CI, 1.17–4.23), patients with an annual income less than $5,000 (OR, 2.85; 95% CI, 1.64–4.97), those reporting a history of domestic violence (OR, 2.69; 95% CI, 1.43–5.07), and heavy alcohol users (OR, 1.79; 95% CI, 1.01–3.19).
Conclusion: One in four ED visits to this urban, county hospital is due, at least in part, to injury. Patient characteristics associated with violence-related injury may generate hypotheses for further study.
From the Hennepin County Medical Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Submitted for publication December 7, 2007.
Accepted for publication April 24, 2008.
Address for reprints: Mathew E. Prekker, MD, MPH, Hennepin County Medical Center, 701 Park Avenue, South Minneapolis, MN; email: email@example.com.