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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University September 26, 2005 | Vol. 35 No. 4
Injury Prevention Could Save Maryland At Least $700 Million a Year

By Kenna Lowe
School of Public Health

In 2003, the total estimated cost of injuries in Maryland due to lost productivity and premature mortality was $1.9 billion. More than $700 million could be saved if Maryland's injury death rates decreased to those of Massachusetts, resulting in 23,700 fewer years of potentially productive life lost, according to researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Steps such as enforcing speed limits through electronic monitoring and implementing tougher gun design, purchase and usage laws could decrease injuries in Maryland. The study is published in the summer issue of Maryland Medicine.

In order to measure the cost of injuries, the researchers calculated the number of potential years of lost work productivity due to both nonfatal and fatal injury and illness, including heart diseases, malignant growths and respiratory diseases. They also compared mortality data from Maryland with that of Massachusetts, which, although the states are demographically and socioeconomically similar, has much lower injury mortality rates.

The Johns Hopkins researchers found that in Maryland in 2003 almost half the total productive years of life lost to various diseases resulted from fatal and nonfatal injuries, mainly firearm and motor vehicle injuries. In 2003, the total estimated cost of treatment for injury victims in Maryland, over and above productivity losses, was $3 billion.

"In Maryland, both fatal and nonfatal injuries presented the highest costs for society, compared to other major diseases, like cancer and heart diseases. Therefore, it is essential to make injury control a priority and allocate funding for more research and programs," said Cynthia Gazal-Carvalho, corresponding author of the study and a postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Bloomberg School.

The study's co-authors, in addition to Gazal-Carvalho, were N. Borse, A. Murthy, J. Onishi, V. Pham, M. Wen and T. Baker.


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