What are Injuries?

Injuries are not "accidents." They are predictable and preventable events! An injury is defined as any unintentional or intentional damage to the body resulting from acute exposure to thermal, mechanical, electrical, or chemical energy or the absence of such elements as heat or oxygen. Unintentional injuries are those that have previously, and incorrectly, been thought of as "accidents." They include injuries that are motor vehicle related, falls, poisonings/drug overdoses, drownings, fire and burns, among other forms. Injuries also include self-inflicted damage (done on purpose to one’s self, such as a suicide or suicide attempt) and damage done by one person to another (such as an assault or homicide).

The Problem of Injuries

Injuries are a leading cause of death and disability nationwide and are a major contributor to health care costs. Injuries (including "accidents," suicides, and homicides) are the leading cause of death among Massachusetts residents ages 1-44, and the third leading cause of death among all age groups combined.

In 2012, there were 2,657 injury deaths among Massachusetts residents. The leading cause of these deaths was poisoning, which includes drug overdoses, accounting for 30 percent (1 in 3) injury deaths in the state. These deaths are just the tip of a much larger problem. In FY2013, there were over 65,000 hospital stays and over 705,000 emergency department visits associated with nonfatal injury. The leading causes of these nonfatal injury events were falls, poisonings, sports, and transportation-related injuries.

This information is provided by the Injury Prevention and Control Program within the Department of Public Health.