When you think about what makes Kentucky different from other states, you probably think about the landscape, the history, the weather, the basketball, maybe even the food. But what about the health of its citizens? How does the Bluegrass State compare in terms of injury-related deaths? According to one recent study, the news isn’t good.
A non-profit, non-partisan organization named Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) seeks to save lives by “protecting the health of every community and working to make disease prevention a national priority.” Released in June, their state-by-state prevention policy report found that injuries are the leading cause of death for Americans ages 1 to 44 and are responsible for nearly 193,000 deaths per year. Sadly, the No. 1 cause of injury deaths in the U.S. was drug overdoses — nearly 44,000 each year. In fact, these deaths have more than doubled in the past 14 years and now exceed motor vehicle-related deaths in 36 states. Kentucky had the second highest rate behind only West Virginia for drug overdose deaths – at a rate of 24.6 per 100,000 people.
The report revealed that, in the past four years, the number of injury deaths increased significantly in 17 states, remained stable in 24 states and decreased in nine states. Kentucky ranked seventh highest for the number of injury-related deaths in the state, with a rate of 81.7 per 100,000 people. Overall, the national rate was 58.4 per 100,000 people. Rates include all injury deaths, for all ages, for deaths caused by injuries and violence (intentional and unintentional). The average injury-related death in the U.S. was estimated to cost over $1 million in medical costs and lost wages.
The indicators were developed in consultation with top injury prevention experts from the Safe States Alliance and the Society for the Advancement of Violence and Injury Research (SAVIR). The indicators were:
- Does the state have a primary seat belt law?
- Does the state require car seats or booster seats for children up to at least the age of 8?
- Does the state have fewer homicides than the national goal of 5.5 per 100,000 people established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) (2011-2013 data)?
- Does the state have fewer deaths from unintentional falls than the national goal of 7.2 per 100,000 people established by HHS (2011-2013 data)?
- Does the state require mandatory use of data from the prescription drug monitoring program by at least some healthcare providers?
- Does the state have laws in place to expand access to and use of naloxone, an overdose rescue drug, by laypersons?
- Does the state require mandatory ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers, even first-time offenders?
- Does the state have Graduated Driver Licensing laws – restricting driving for teens starting at 10 p.m.?
- Does the state require bicycle helmets for all children?
- Does the state have a child abuse and neglect victimization rate at or below the national rate of 9.1 per 1,000 children (2013 data)?
Kentucky was able to answer “yes” to the first six indicators listed above, which puts us slightly above the national average – 29 states scored a five or lower while 13 states scored a six. TFAH’s executive director says, “Injuries are not just acts of fate. Research shows they are pretty predictable and preventable.”
If you are trying to put your life back together after a personal injury, have lost someone to a wrongful death, or have more questions about this topic, trust your case to the Pikeville, KY-based Johnson Law Firm. We are ready to provide you with a free and confidential initial consultation. Contact us by calling 606-433-0682 or filling out our online form.