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Research: Data Collection in Hospitals Could Help Prevent Workplace Injuries

May 9, 2013
by Gabriel Perna
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Researchers at the Drexel University School of Public Health say if occupational information was included in a hospital’s data collection it could go a long way in preventing workplace health and safety hazards.

The researchers note that aggregated data collected from hospital and emergency department records are routinely used in public health activities. Thus, it wouldn’t be too out of place if there was a place to record data about patients' industry and occupation.

Four million Americans suffer a workplace injury, the researchers note, and even with this, hospitals don’t track and report these incidents. Most workplace injury statistics are based on probability samples, they write, and this leaves gaps in information on how, when, and why someone was hurt. Without this data, proper prevention efforts can’t be formed, they say.

Jennifer Taylor, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Drexel and an author of the new paper, stated: "If we could get industry and occupation information from everyone who seeks care in a hospital, we would have a really good handle on how many injuries and illnesses there are. This would enable us as a nation to develop evidenced-based prevention strategies to address the hazards of work."

The research is outlined in a recent issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. In it, the researchers talk extensively about the benefits of industry and occupation data collection when treating injuries and illnesses and describe processes and coding standards by which such data could be added to hospital discharge data.

They do note that collecting this data would cost more for hospitals. However, they say, the use of existing federal standard codes for occupation and industry data would allow data collection can proceed with a minimal cost and effort to hospitals.

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