State Health Department Gives Oklahoma an “F” Grade for Unintentional Injury Deaths
Every year, the Oklahoma State Department of Health releases a detailed analysis of the “State of the State’s Health” (SOSH). The health analysis includes “report cards” that grade each county based on criteria like the incidence rates of diabetes and obesity, and, as our Oklahoma wrongful death attorneys focus on here, fatalities caused by unintentional injuries such as burn injuries and drowning accidents. Alarmingly, Oklahoma received a flunking grade on the 2014 report — and many of its individual counties didn’t perform much better, either.
Accidental Falls, Car Crashes Leading Causes of Unintentional Fatal Injury
According to 2014 SOSH report, which features data through 2012, unintentional injuries rank as the number one cause of death for Oklahomans aged one to 44 years old — a group which includes more than half of Oklahoma’s population, according to figures supplied by the Administration on Aging. Approximately 2,300 Oklahoma residents were killed by accidental injuries in 2012, accounting for one out of every 16 deaths statewide that year. The leading causes of death caused by accidental injuries in Oklahoma are:
- Accidental Falls
- Accidental Poisoning
- Car Accidents in Oklahoma
Unfortunately, the problem is getting substantially worse with time. The rate of unintentional injury death skyrocketed by nearly 50% from 2000 to 2012 — barely more than a decade — increasing from 58.5 per 100,000 in 2007 to 60.5 per 100,000 in 2010. That’s only slightly lower than the rate in West Virginia, which, at 63.8 per 100,000, is the highest in the nation. (For additional context, the national average rate of death caused by unintentional injury is 38.1 per 100,000.) The SOSH report accordingly gave Oklahoma a “thumbs down” rating for progress reducing fatalities caused by accidental injuries.
In particular, accidental poisonings and overdoses are becoming more and more common, largely due to the profusion of prescription drug abuse in recent years. While car crash fatalities have hovered between 32,000 and 34,000 deaths nationally since 2009, poisoning deaths have increased by a staggering 370% during the past decade.
Statistics Show Males, Elderly Adults at Greatest Risk of Fatal Accidents in Oklahoma
Overall, the state of Oklahoma received an “F” grade for unintentional injury deaths. However, when demographics and counties were analyzed individually, some had better statistical outlooks than others — albeit not by much.
For example, when the state of Oklahoma was analyzed as a whole, males received an “F” grade (74.1 per 100,000) while females received a “D” grade (45.1 per 100,000). As these figures illustrate, the overall rate of death caused by unintentional injury is significantly higher among male Oklahomans. The SOSH report also noted that males had a higher rate of death caused by accidental falls, such as slip and fall accidents in Oklahoma (as did adults 65 and older, regardless of gender).
There were also some statistical gaps between age groups. All age demographics received a failing grade with the exception of the 18- to 24-year-old group, which received a “D” grade. The rate of accidental injury-related death among adults aged 65 and older is over three times higher (136.1 per 100,000) than it is among 18- to 24-year-olds (43.2 per 100,000).
Geographic factors also played a role. The central and Tulsa regions of the state received “D” grades, while the rest of Oklahoma flunked. Only two counties were able to score a “C” grade for unintentional injuries: Comanche County and Noble County. Every other county in the state received either a “D” (including Oklahoma County and Cleveland County), or, more commonly, an “F” grade. Not a single county was able to score a “B” or “A” grade for unintentional injury fatalities.
So, what initiatives are being taken by the state of Oklahoma taking to start reversing these worrying trends? To reduce poisoning and overdose deaths, the Health Department is overhauling prescription guidelines. To counter auto accident fatalities, the Department is promoting the use of helmets, seat belts, and child safety seats. Finally, to fight adult falls, the Department is promoting a Tai Chi program to help seniors improve their balance. (If you think your parent or grandparent might be interested, you can find information about signing up on the OSDH Tai Chi program website.) Hopefully, these initiatives will help Oklahoma score better grades in the near future.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Our Norman, Oklahoma Personal Injury Lawyers
While government programs can help reduce the risk of accidental death or injury, many accidents are caused by sheer carelessness. If you or one of your family members was injured because of another person’s careless actions, the person who caused your injuries may be liable for your losses and expenses, including medical bills, lost earnings, and pain and suffering.
To review your personal injury claim in a free and confidential legal consultation, call the Oklahoma personal injury attorneys of Hasbrook & Hasbrook at (405) 698-3040. We have over 75 years of combined experience representing injury victims and the surviving loved ones of wrongful death victims throughout the Oklahoma City metropolitan area. We handle Oklahoma motorcycle accidents, boating accidents in Oklahoma, and many other types of accident claims.