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Water incident related hospital activity across England between 1997/8 and 2003/4: a retrospective descriptive study

By Holly E. Henderson and Richard Wilson


Every year in the United Kingdom, 10,000 people will die from accidental injury and the treatment of these injuries will cost the NHS £2 billion and the consequences of injuries received at home cost society a further £25 billion [1]. Non-fatal injuries result in 720,000 people being admitted to hospital a year and more than six million visits to accident and emergency departments each year [2]. Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury mortality globally behind road traffic injuries. It is estimated that a total of 409, 272 people drown each year [3]. This equates to a global incident rate of 7.4 deaths per 100, 000 people worldwide and relates to a further 1.3 million Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) which are lost as a result of premature death or disability [4].\ud \ud 'Death' represents only the tip of the injury "iceberg" [5]. For every life lost from an injury, many more people are admitted to hospital, attend accident and emergency departments or general practitioners, are rescued by search and rescue organisations or resolve the situation themselves. It is estimated that 1.3 million people are injured as a result of near drowning episodes globally and that many more hundreds of thousands of people are affected through incidents and near misses but there are no accurate data [4].\ud \ud The United Kingdom has reported a variable drowning fatality rate, the injury chart book reports a rate of 1.0 – 1.5 per 100,000 [6] and other studies suggest a rate as low as 0.5 per 100, 000 population [7] for accidental drowning and submersion, based on the International Classification of Disease 10 code W65 – 74, however, the problem is even greater and these Global Burden of Disease (GDB) figures are an underestimate of all drowning deaths, since they exclude drownings due to cataclysms (floods), water related transport accidents, assaults and suicide [3]. A recent study in Scotland highlighted this underestimation in drowning fatality data and found that the overall death rate due to drownings in Scotland 3.26 per 100,000 [8]. Even though drowning fatality rates in the United Kingdom vary, little is known about the people who are admitted to hospital after an incident either in or on water. This paper seeks to address this gap in our knowledge through the investigation of the data available on those admitted to NHS hospitals in England

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Year: 2006
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