A descriptive study of farm-related injuries presenting to emergency departments in North Carolina: 2008-2012

Farming is among the most dangerous industries for fatal and nonfatal injuries. A comprehensive agricultural injury surveillance system is absent in North Carolina (NC), and data sets traditionally used to provide estimates of nonfatal farm injuries surveillance in the United States are relatively incomplete. In the absence of a comprehensive farm injury surveillance system, individual local administrative data sources can provide a useful profile of the epidemiology of injuries in a population. The objective of this study was to use emergency department data to help describe the burden of farm-related injuries in NC and explore its usefulness in conducting work-related injury surveillance. Emergency department data from the North Carolina Disease Event Tracking and Epidemiologic Collection Tool (NC DETECT) was utilized to identify farm injury cases. The study sample included all farm injury cases for the period of 2008–2012 that contained International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM) E code 919.0 (agricultural machinery) or 849.1 (place of occurrence = farm; this E code excludes farm house and home premises of farm). Results indicated that an average of 459 cases of farm injury occurred annually from 2008 to 2012, with no significant change between years. Among the patients, 79.7% were male, 74.7% were between 18 and 64 years old, and 28.1% had no form of insurance coverage. Injuries were more heavily concentrated in the Piedmont and Coastal Plains regions (41.3% and 42.2%, respectively). Of farm-coded incidents, 73.2% were given injury- or poisoning-related primary diagnosis codes, and of these, the most frequent specific codes were related to open wounds of upper limbs (16.2%), contusions (12.0%), and sprains and strains (9.3%). Some significant relationships between diagnoses and sex, region, and age are also identified. Injuries occurring on a farm have been well documented and constitute a significant public health problem. Exploring emergency department data provides an opportunity to better characterize nonfatal farm-related injuries in NC for prevention purposes. The data provided by this study may serve to direct prevention programs, whereas the methods used offer a potential farm-related injury surveillance tool.

Source: Allen DL, Kearney GD, Higgins S. J. Agromed. 2015; 20 (4), p. 398-408.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1059924X.2015.1074972

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