"The Ronan Report" provides insight about the activities at the Western Maryland Health System in Cumberland, Maryland, and about the changes taking place in healthcare today from a CEO's perspective.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The New Leading Cause of Injury-Related Deaths

I just read a report published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that drug overdoses at 44,000 deaths per year is the now the leading cause of death from injuries in the US.  These deaths have doubled in the last 14 years, with over half coming from prescription drug use.  

Motor vehicle related deaths were the previous leading cause of injury-related death in the US until this year. As for Maryland, drug overdoses are the leading cause of death here, along with 35 other states.  The remaining 14 states have motor vehicle related deaths as their leading cause of death.  

Nationally, over two million people are abusing prescription drugs, leading to heroin users doubling over the last seven years.  Motor vehicle deaths have declined by 25% over the last decade.  The suicide rate has remained stable for the past 20 years, with still 70% of all suicides being among white males.  Lastly, falls are increasing as baby boomers age. 

There is  a direct correlation between preventing motor vehicle deaths and laws addressing seat belt use, car seats for infants and toddlers, and ignition locks for convicted drunk drivers.  I was shocked to read that 16 states still do not have a primary seat belt law.  Twenty states do not have an ignition lock law for convicted drunk drivers and, 16 states do not require car / booster seats for children up to age eight.

In the injury related death rankings, Maryland ranks 42 out of 50 states with Pennsylvania at 23 and West Virginia at 1.  The higher the number, the better.  With drug overdoses, Maryland is 26th; PA is 9th and WV is again, 1st.

Obviously, a great deal needs to be done to fight drug abuse in Maryland, PA and WV;  clearly an issue in our own community with the abuse of prescription drugs and the increased use of heroin.  

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