Trends in paediatric injury rates using emergency department based injury surveillance


Correspondence to:
Dr Michael Shepherd, Children's Emergency Department, Starship Hospital, Auckland, New Zealand. Fax: +64 9 3757055; e-mail:


Objective: The primary aim of this study was to develop a method of calculating paediatric injury rate from Emergency Department injury surveillance data and use this to describe trends in paediatric injury. This study also aimed to establish whether triage category could be used as an indicator of severity.

Methods: Prospective observational study of paediatric injury in Brisbane, Australia from 1998 to 2005 using Emergency Department injury surveillance data. Injury incidence was calculated using postcode restriction, census data and analysis of injury surveillance data quality and alternative hospital presentations.

Results: The incidence of Emergency Department injury presentation increased by 56% between 1998 and 2005. The incidence of injury (adjusted for ascertainment and other hospital presentations) increased from 5,323/100,000/year to 8,316/100,000/year (p<0.01). The overall incidence of admission increased from 1,066/100,000/year to 1,238/100,000/year (p<0.01). The incidence of injury presentations triaged as urgent or above increased by 16% over the study period (2,348/100,000/year to 2,723/100,000/year, p<0.01).

Conclusion: Injury incidence can be determined using Emergency Department injury surveillance data and triage category is a useful indicator of injury severity. Paediatric emergency department injury presentations, including serious injury, increased significantly between 1998 and 2005.

Implications: The methodology used in this study is easily repeatable and could be used to evaluate injury prevention interventions. The prevention and management of injury should be directed by accurate injury incidence data.