Injury and poisoning hospitalise 404,000 a year

Australian hospitals treated 404,000 Australians for injury and poisoning during 1998-99, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

Falls were the most common cause of injury, hospitalising 52,000 males and 63,000 females during the year.

Hospital Separations Due to Injury and Poisoning, Australia 1998-99 shows that injuries leading to hospitalisation most often occur at home.

Females were more likely to be injured in and around the home than males. Males, however, had almost three times the number of injuries occurring in sports or athletics areas than their female counterparts, and more than eight times the number of injuries at industrial and construction areas.

Report co-author Dr Raymond Cripps, from the AIHW's National Injury Surveillance Unit at Flinders University, said that age also played a part in where injuries occurred.

'Children and the elderly are more likely to be injured in the home, while teenagers aged 15-19 years are more likely to be injured in sports and athletic environments,' Dr Cripps said.

'A higher proportion of adults aged 20-64 are injured at industrial and construction areas.'
The report shows that shoulder and upper limb injuries were the injuries most commonly diagnosed and treated in both males and females.

Children aged 0-4 years, teenagers aged 15-19 years and adults aged over 80 years had the highest head injury rates.

'Males are more than twice as likely as females to be hospitalised with head injuries, across all age groups', Dr Cripps said.

'Wrist and hand injuries were also very common, but the rates were much lower than those for head injuries.'

Other findings of the report include:

  • 33% of patients admitted for injury stayed in hospital for three days or more.
  • The young (0-14 years) and the elderly (65 years and older) are the groups most at risk of hospitalisation for fall-related injuries-accounting for about 26,000 and 52,000 hospital admissions respectively.
  • Hospitalisations due to intentional self-harm made up about 5% of all injury and poisoning admissions.

Canberra, 29 July 2002


Further information: Dr Raymond Cripps, AIHW National Injury Surveillance Unit, tel. 08 8374 0970
For media copies of the report: Publications Officer, tel. 02 6244 1032