The Ohio Violence and Injury Prevention Section (VIPS) assesses the burden of overall and specific types of injury in Ohio through the examination of multiple data sets including hospital discharge, EMS, death, trauma registry and risk factor surveillance. The program monitors and reports trends and emerging injury issues, produces annual reports and responds to requests for data.
What is an injury?
The National Safety Council defines injury as: “Physical harm or damage to the body resulting from an energy exchange, usually acute mechanical (e.g., motor vehicle crash, falls), chemical (e.g., poisoning), thermal (e.g., fire/burn) or other environmental energy (e.g., hyperthermia, suffocation, drowning) that exceeds the body’s tolerance.”
Injuries can further be classified by the intent or purposefulness of occurrence in two categories: intentional and unintentional injuries. Intentional injuries are purposely inflicted and often associated with violence. These include child and elder maltreatment, domestic violence, sexual assault, aggravated assault, homicide and suicide. Unintentional injuries include those that occur without intent of harm and are not purposely inflicted.
How are the causes of injuries identified in injury surveillance?
The cause, or mechanism, describes the way in which the person sustained the injury; how the person was injured; or the process by which the injury occurred.
The cause of injury is the underlying cause, rather than the direct cause. The underlying cause is what starts the chain of events that leads to an injury and produces the actual physical harm. The underlying and direct causes can be the same or different. For example, if a person cuts his or her finger with a knife, the knife is both the underlying and direct cause. However, if a child falls and hits his/her head on a coffee table, the fall is the underlying cause (the action that starts the injury event), and the contact with the table is the direct cause (the action that causes the actual physical harm). If we can prevent the underlying cause, we can stop the injury from occurring. In other words, without the underlying cause, there would be no direct cause.
However, efforts to prevent the direct cause of injury (e.g,. bicycle helmets, child safety seats, energy-absorbing playground surfacing, seat belts, air bags, smoke detectors, etc.) can also be very effective and are an important part of a comprehensive injury prevention effort.
Information on causes of injury death is documented on the death certificate while causes of non-fatal injuries are documented in hospital discharge diagnosis codes. For the purposes of injury surveillance using hospital discharge data, the underlying cause is considered the external cause of injury and is captured in external cause of injury codes. These codes are critical to understanding injury prevention needs. Injury causes are typically grouped into the following categories: cuts or pierces, drowning, falls, fire or burn, firearm, foreign body, suffocation, machinery, natural environment, bite or sting, overexertion, poisoning, transportation and struck by or against. Information on the manner or intent of injuries is also included within death and hospital data codes.
The VIPS has produced a number of Ohio-specific data products in the following injury areas:
Falls among Older Adults
The VIPS also collects and analyzes Ohio-specific data through the Ohio Violent Death Reporting System (OH-VDRS). Reports from these analyses can be found here.