Injury and poisoning are broad terms that encompass the adverse effects on the human body that may result from events, whether accidental such as falls, vehicle accidents and exposure to chemicals, or intentional such as suicide attempts and assaults by other people. Such events, and the factors involved in them, are collectively known as 'external causes' of injury and poisoning, and are a significant source of preventable illness, disability and premature death in Australia.
Males and females, and people in different age groups, experience different levels and types of risk from injury events (risk in this sense refers to both the probability of an injury event occurring and the severity of the injuries that may result). Differences in injury risk and injury outcomes are reflected in the draft National Injury Prevention Plan: Priorities for 2001-2003, a key policy response to this designated priority health area. The plan identifies four priority areas: falls among persons aged 65 years and older; falls among children under 15 years of age; drowning and near drowning; and poisoning of infants and children less than 5 years of age. Although the number of deaths from these four types of injuries is relatively small, they account for a large number of hospital admissions.
Respondents to the 2001 NHS were asked about events in the previous four weeks that resulted in an injury for which they had sought medical treatment or taken some other action. Injuries data from the survey are presented in table 9.12 and highlight differences in the reporting of injury events among males and females from different age groups.
Falls have different consequences for older Australians; 2001 NHS data show that a low fall (of one metre or less) for a person aged 65 years and over was more likely to result in them sustaining a fracture than was the case for a younger person (graph 9.13). Further, women aged 65 years and over were most likely to sustain a fracture.
External causes were responsible for 8,098 deaths (6% of all deaths) registered in 2000 (table 9.14). Since 1990 there has been a 13% decrease in the standardised death rate for deaths from external causes, mainly due to a 37% decrease in the rate for transport accidents. In 2000 there were 2,363 deaths attributed to intentional self harm (suicide), 5% lower than the 1999 figure and 13% lower than the record 2,723 deaths registered in 1997. Deaths as a result of suicide account for more than one in five deaths of persons aged 25-34 years (a rate of 20.1 per 100,000 persons) and 15-24 years (12.5 per 100,000). Males consistently have higher rates of death than females due to external causes.
9.12 INJURY EVENTS(a) - 2001
|Age group (years)|
|65 and over|
|(a) The 2001 NHS collected information on up to three injury events per person. It was possible for respondents to report more than one injury event in the previous four weeks.|
Source: ABS data available on request, preliminary data from the 2001 National Health Survey.
9.14 EXTERNAL CAUSES OF DEATH - 2000
Crude death rate(a)
|Suicide (intentional self-harm) (X60-X84)|
|Transport accidents (V01-V99) |
|Accidental poisoning by and exposure to noxious substances (X40-X49)|
|Accidental drowning and submersion (W65-W74)|
|All external causes|
|(a) Crude rate per 100,000 population.|
Source: Causes of Death, Australia, 2000 (3303.0).