[Image courtesy of Parachute]
Each year, more than 2,000 British Columbians die, around 35,000 are hospitalized, and more than 8,000 are left with a permanent disability as a result of injury. An average of $3.1 billion is spent on the treatment of injuries to British Columbians annually—that’s $8.4 million a day.
Most of these injuries and deaths could have been prevented. The Province of British Columbia has proclaimed July 5 as Injury Prevention Day. On that day, major landmarks across the province will join a national movement and light up green to bring attention to this issue.
The BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit (BCIRPU) has created an interactive tool to help people understand the human and economic cost of preventable injuries.
The website, costofinjury.ca, has data detailing the human cost of injury, including deaths, hospitalizations, and emergency department visits, as well as the economic costs of injury on the health care system and society. Interactive charts and graphs illustrate just how severe this problem is in BC. The tool provides costs by BC Health Authority.
“The sad thing is, almost all of these deaths and hospitalizations are preventable,” said Dr. Ian Pike, Director of the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit.
“Whether it’s a family mourning the loss of a loved one, a worker being told they will never walk again, or nurses and doctors treating trauma patients after a severe crash, this tool highlights the immense cost and the lost potential that injuries have to our society, families, and communities.”
Unintentional poisoning is the leading cause of injury death in BC, driven by the current opioid crisis. Other leading causes of injury death in the province are from falls, suicide and transport-related incidents.
The report is based on 2018 data. The total economic cost of injury in BC in 2018 (direct and indirect costs) was $4.3 billion. This is equivalent to $4.8 billion in 2022, after accounting for inflation. This includes $2.7 billion in direct health care costs—costs related to diagnosis, treatment, continuing care, rehabilitation, ambulance transportation, hospital costs, and emergency care costs ($3.1 billion in 2022 dollars). In other words, each day, an average of $7.4 million is spent on treatment of injuries to British Columbians ($8.4 million in 2022 dollars).
The tool is modelled on the Cost of Injury in Canada interactive report, published by Parachute, the national injury prevention organization, in collaboration with the BCIRPU. Data currently exists for British Columbia and Atlantic Canada, with the potential for more provinces to be added in the future.
Other highlights from the report include:
- The leading causes of injury deaths were unintentional poisoning (40%), falls (22%), suicide (20%), and transport-related incidents (10%)
- Unintentional injuries, injuries that occur without planning or intent, accounted for $3.8 billion (89%) of injury costs
- Expenses related to falls cost British Columbians $1.7 billion
- Unintentional poisonings cost British Columbians $703 million
- Transport-related incidents cost $492 million
- Suicide or self-harm cost $371 million
- Among children 0-14, the leading cause of injury was falls ($112 million)
- Among youth and young adults 15-24 and adults 25-64, the leading cause of injury was unintentional poisoning ($125 million, and $567 million, respectively)
- Among older adults 65+, falls cost $1.1 billion
- The total costs in 2018 were:
- $462,413 for each injury death
- $120,793 for each injury disability
- $24,429 for each injury hospitalization
- $1,927 for each injury ED visit
BC Landmarks that will light up green on July 5 for National Injury Prevention Day:
- Port Coquitlam City Hall, Port Coquitlam
- Fraser River Foot Bridge, Quesnel
- Civic Plaza, Surrey
- Vancouver City Hall, Vancouver
- Burrard Street Bridge, Vancouver
- BC Place, Vancouver
- Canada Place Sails of Light, Vancouver
- Science World at Telus, Vancouver
- Vancouver Convention Centre, Vancouver
- Vancouver Lookout, Vancouver
- Kelowna General Hospital, Kelowna
- Vernon Jubilee Hospital, Vernon
- Royal Inland Hospital, Kamloops
- Parliament Building, Ceremonial Entrance and Front Fountain, Victoria
- Victoria Street Bridge, Trail
- The Bastion, Nanaimo
- Fitzsimmons Creek Bridge, Whistler
- Maple Ridge City Hall, Maple Ridge