Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What health informatics information technology can do for injury and violence prevention?

Today's guest blog is by Jiunn-Jye (JJ) Sheu MSPH, PhD, MCHES, Assistant Professor in the Department of Health and Recreation Professions at Judith Herb College of Education, Health Science and Human Service, University of Toledo

Health information technology covers a wide variety of innovations in computer sciences, engineering, communication for public health, prevention sciences, and clinical medicine. The use of health information technology has been widely applied to a variety of public health issues, including injury and violence surveillance and prevention. For example, Reports of the Leading Causes of Death: issued by the National Center for Health Statistics showed unintentional injuries ranked fifth place for all ages and topped the list for persons aged 1-44 years.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS): can provide spatial distributions by capturing, storing, analyzing, managing, and presenting data with reference to geographic location data for fatalities associated with intentional and unintentional injuries. In addition, Helmet technology for head injury among motorists: Motorists suffer from higher risk of head injuries and concussions from accidents. Innovative helmet designs can prevent such tragedies from happening or reduce the force of head traumas.

Moreover, Websites to promote awareness of injury prevention: By incorporating health communication and social marketing principles, health information technology can assist citizens of all ages to learn about preventive measures for injuries and violence. The New York State Department of Health provides a good list of website resources.

For more information about how the Health Informatics Information Technology Section can collaborate with communities, visit APHA website, and go to the HIIT Section and contact the Chair of the Health Informatics Information Technology (HIIT) Section, Christopher Williams at cwilliams@eqhs.org for additional information.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Public Health and Public Safety – A New Approach to the Nation’s Drug Control Strategy

Today's guest blog was written by R. Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy .

Drug use and its consequences takes its toll in our Nation – in 2007, approximately 28,000 people in America died from unintentional drug overdoses – that’s about one person every 19 minutes and, unfortunately, this number is on the rise. And the drug problem doesn’t just harm individuals, but others around them as well. We know, for instance, that over eight million young people in the United States live with at least one parent who is dependent on alcohol or drugs, putting them at risk for physical or emotional abuse. In addition, visits by individuals to hospital emergency rooms involving the misuse or abuse of pharmaceutical drugs have doubled over the past five years and have now exceeded the number of visits involving illicit drugs for the third year in a row.

To address these serious challenges, the Obama Administration has embarked on a fundamental refocusing of America’s approach to drug control. Our efforts must be balanced and focused on treating the disease of drug addiction and we must address the drug problem in general as both a public health and public safety issue.

In support of this effort, the Obama Administration’s National Drug Control Strategy emphasizes drug prevention education and drug treatment, as well as reforming the criminal justice system and supporting international partnerships to disrupt international drug trafficking organizations. We’re putting real resources behind these efforts. Despite the difficult budget environment, the President has requested increases in funding for drug prevention education by $123 million and drug treatment programs by $99 million for Fiscal Year 2012. By taking a comprehensive, public health approach to this problem, we can reduce unintentional overdoses, workplace injuries, drugged driving, and other negative health outcomes while protecting our communities from drug related crime. But we need your help.

As I’ve noted before, our Strategy requires strong collaboration between the Federal Government and those working at the local level. One issue on which we can work together is drugged driving. As public health experts, you are well aware of the dangers of driving after consuming drugs or alcohol, including adverse effects on judgment, reaction time, motor skills, and memory. But new data are revealing an alarming prevalence of individuals driving after consuming illicit drugs. One national study found that one in eight nighttime weekend drivers tested positive for an illicit drug. Also, we found that one in three drivers with known drug-test results who were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2009 tested positive for drugs. The Obama Administration has set a goal of reducing the prevalence of drugged driving by 10 percent by 2015, but we can’t do it without the support and expertise of the public health community.

During National Public Health Week, ONDCP is proud to join the American Public Health Association in recognizing the outstanding public health work going on across the county. We recognize the importance of working together to reduce injuries and promote safe choices. But most of all, we hope that you join us in helping to reduce drug use and its consequences. Your public health expertise is part of our strategy for building a safer and healthier America.

Friday, April 8, 2011

TGIF and Happy National Public Health Week Student Day (NPHW) 2011!

Today's guest blog is by Vanisa Verma, Student Co-Chair Elect to APHA's Community Health Planning & Policy Development Section, Spring 2011 APHA Intern and Graduate Student at Saint Louis University School of Public Health.

Here’s to another successful week of public health awareness and a nationwide effort to promote safer living throughout all of our communities. Today’s theme is safety ‘In Your Community’.

The community plays a critical role in advancing better injury prevention efforts and safety practices. Throughout the week, we’ve focused on how everyday Americans can start small and think big in preventing injuries and violence. Today we celebrate the collective power communities have in creating a higher standard of safety and healthy living as a nation.

Where we live, learn, work and play matters to our health. Communities that promote active living with safe, equitable access to sidewalks and bike paths, health care facilities, grocery stores, and parks and playgrounds make it easier for families and individuals to make healthy lifestyle choices. A community is only as strong as its members, which makes every person important in advancing prevention!

Start small by joining your neighborhood watch program, get involved with school leaders to include prevention programs or become a champion of injury prevention in your community!

Think big by working alongside or even leading the number of community-driven initiatives that keep our homes, workplaces, public areas and streets safe! These can include a community safety task force, violence intervention and prevention, suicide prevention program, and programs to help foster positive parent-child relationships.

It only takes a moment for an injury to happen, but it also only takes a moment to prevent them.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Be a Part of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety!

Today's guest blog is by Bella Dinh-Zarr, PhD, MPH, North American Director, Make Roads Safe Campaign for Global Road Safety, Road Safety Director, FIA Foundation Chair, ICEHS Section of APHA

The United Nations has proclaimed 2011-2020 as the Decade of Action for Road Safety, making traffic crashes an international public health priority. There's no better time than National Public Health Week to join the Decade efforts!

1.3 million people die and 50+ million people are seriously injured every year on the roads worldwide. WHO estimates that by 2030, traffic related injuries will be the 5th leading cause of death worldwide. More people will die on the roads than will die of HIV/AIDS! But we can do something about this!

If we start implementing proven interventions- such as building safer cars and roads, passing good traffic laws, promoting strong enforcement and education - a Safe Systems Approach involving the road, the vehicle, and the user- we can build a safety culture and have a huge effect on future deaths. The Safe Systems approach is also the basis of the UN Decade of Action 'Five Pillar' Plan.

The Road Safety 'Tag' The Road Safety Tag is the official symbol for the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety which begins on May 11, 2011. Just as the AIDS symbol is more than a red ribbon and the Breast Cancer Awareness ribbon is more than a pink piece of cloth, you can help make the Tag more than just a little yellow piece of metal.
* Go to www.decadeofaction.org to download the Road Safety Tag and learn more!
* Wear a Road Safety Tag yourself (you will be in good company - with President Clinton, Mayor Bloomberg, Aung San Suu Kyi).

The Decade of Action for Road Safety is our opportunity to commit to making our communities safer where we live - and to show our concern for others suffering around the world. Please join us!

Bicyclists Safety

The summer is right around the corner, bringing with it outdoor activities and events. One of the more popular activities for adults and children alike is cycling. According to the 2002 National Survey of Pedestrian and Bicyclist Attitudes and Behaviors which was sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) approximately 27.3 percent of the population age 16 or older rode a bicycle at least once during the summer of 2002. However, while cycling should be encouraged for individuals of all ages and skills, it is important to remember these important bicycle safety tips provided by our colleagues at the Utah Department of Health. Remember, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists.

· Obey all traffic laws, stop signs and signals, traffic lights, and other traffic controls. Bike riders must obey the same laws as motor vehicles. If you want the respect of motorists, you must show respect for traffic laws.

· Always wear a properly fitted helmet - it could save your life.

· Ride predictably in a straight line. Do not jump back and forth from the sidewalk and the roadway. Do not weave in and out of parked or stopped cars.

· Ride on the right side of the road, riding in the same direction as the flow of traffic.

· Be visible. Wear bright and reflective clothing if possible.

· When riding a bike at night, your bike should have a headlight, a rear red reflector/taillight, and side reflectors. These are required in most states, though regulations vary.

· Follow lane markings. Do not turn left from the right lane and do not ride straight through a right turn-only lane.

· Use hand signals to let other road users know what you are doing and where you are planning to go.

· Do not ride in a driver's blind spot. If a car is slowing down, do not pass it on the right side - the driver may be turning right and may not see you.

· Ride single file in traffic except when passing another bicyclist.

· Yield to pedestrians when riding on a sidewalk.

· Be respectful of other road users. Courtesy is contagious.

For more information, please check out one of the many informative websites available, such as the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center, the Lance Armstrong Foundation, or the League of American Bicyclists.

The case for safety

Today's guest blog is by Jurek G. Grabowski, Director of Research at the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

All deaths due to unintentional injuries are preventable. Don't believe me? Take a look at commercial aviation. There were zero U.S. airline fatalities last year. In fact, 2010 was the third year in the past four to be free of passenger deaths, and the fourth such year since 2002. That makes the years between 2000 and 2010 of one of the safest decades ever to fly in this country. Much of it can be attributed to the so-called "safety culture" that was adopted by the aviation industry and governmental agencies over the last three decades. Safety culture can loosely be defined as a social environment in which safety is greatly valued and meticulously pursued. Although there is more research needed to define all the factors that make up and define safety culture, there is no uncertainty that the results are defined by less death and less pain people suffer due to injuries. It is also certain that "safety culture" is not just a one-time thing. It is something that individuals and organizations need to cultivate, discuss and practice year in and year out. And new data show this mentality is starting to gain traction.

Last week, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) early estimates show that traffic deaths in the U.S. have reached the lowest levels on record since 1949. When you closely examine the 2010 data you can see that large decline in the first six months of the year was the biggest factor of this remarkable decline in traffic fatalities. But, we can't rest on our recent successes. Now is time to double down on a commitment to "safety culture" not only in traffic safety but all types of injury because all unintentional injuries are preventable.

Alcohol increases risk of injuries

Today's blog entry is an article by Cheryl J. Cherpitel, BSN, DrPH.

There’s no question that drinking and driving is a deadly concoction Though often overlooked, drinking can also increase the likelihood of injuries related to fires, drowning, violence and more.

People are more likely to engage in risky behavior when under the influence than when they are sober. Across the world, alcohol is one of the leading causes of injuries and deaths. According to a 2004 study, injuries are involved in 46 percent of all deaths due to alcohol and 42 percent of morbidity.

Emergency room studies have also found that compared to other patients, injured patients are more likely to have positive blood alcohol levels when they arrive at the ER. (PDF) Patients with alcohol-related injuries are more than two and a half times more likely to return to the hospital for continued injuries and even have a slower recovery time due to the alcohol’s effect on the body. (PDF)

Eliminating alcohol could lower the number of violence-related injuries as much as 43 percent compared to injuries from other causes.

As we celebrate National Public Health Week, keep in mind that alcohol-related injuries can be prevented altogether. Next time you’re out on the town, take a moment and think about the simple steps you can take to avoid injury. Check out some quick facts on injuries and alcohol (PDF) and visit the NPHW website for additional injury and violence prevention tips.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Key Resources for Parents to Help Their Children Stay Safe

Today’s guest blog is by Angela D. Mickalide, PhD, MCHES, Director of Research and Programs, Safe Kids USA.

As a mother of two teenagers and a staff member for Safe Kids USA , I am reminded daily of how important my role as a parent has been in keeping my children safe and injury free. Some of it is common sense, but also much of what we as parents need to do is advance planning to take the necessary precautions to keep our children safe.

At Safe Kids USA, our mission is simple – to help prevent injuries to children. It’s a mission that you might think every parent and caregiver should have. But sadly, preventable injuries are the greatest killer of kids from ages 1 to 14. More than 5,000 children die in the U.S. each year from injuries that could have been prevented, and another 6 million kids sustain an injury serious enough to seek medical attention!

Motor vehicle-related accidents; drowning; fire and burns; sports-related accidents; choking, suffocation, and falls are among the leading causes for these injuries.

What we’ve found is that injuries to children can be avoided if parents and caregivers are educated on some very important and easy steps to keep their children safe. For example, on April 17, we will launch a national sports safety campaign supported by Johnson & Johnson that will focus on ways to keep young athletes healthy and injury free.

In all, we have more than 20 public awareness campaigns that we offer parents and caregivers through our network of 600 safety coalitions and chapters that operate in all 50 states. Since our work began in 1987, the death rate for children 14 and under in the U.S has declined by 45 percent. However, more work still needs to be done in preventing injuries to children at home, at play and while they are on their way!

For more Information: www.safekids.org.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Eye Injuries and Playing it Safe

Each year in the United States, there are approximately 600,000 documented sports-related eye injuries. Of these, roughly 72 percent occur in individuals younger than 25 years, and 43 percent in those younger than 15 years.

To support National Public Health Week, the American Public Health Association’s Vision Care Section is emphasizing the importance of protective eyewear for children participating in sports. Sports play a significant role in the lives of most children. While involvement in sports offers a variety of health benefits, participation always carries the risk of injuries, including eye injuries. With children engaged in so many athletic activities, the need for protective eyewear has never been more urgent.

As a parent, caregiver, teacher, school nurse or coach, you can help prevent children’s sports eye injuries by taking the following steps:

1. Know that almost ALL sports-related eye injuries are preventable. Whatever the sport, whatever the child’s age…appropriate protective eyewear is the best defense against eye injury!

2. Learn about the eye injury risks associated with sports before allowing children to participate.

3. Consult an eye doctor for protective eyewear recommendations before enrolling a child in any sports program.

4. Discourage participation in high-risk contacts sports such as boxing, since adequate eye protection does not yet exist for this sport.

5. Only enroll children in after-school organized sports through school districts, community centers, park districts and recreation centers where adults supervise all sports activity.

6. Meet with a child’s coach or athletic trainer to make sure that proper procedures are in place to deal with a child’s eye injury should one occur.

7. Familiarize themselves with the warning signs of an eye injury and know when to seek treatment.

The following symptoms should be treated as medical emergencies – requiring immediate attention at a hospital or by an eye doctor:

· Blurred vision that does not clear with blinking

· Loss of all or part of the field of vision

· Sharp stabbing or deep throbbing pain

· Double vision

· Something on the cornea (the clear membrane that covers the iris)

· Cut or torn eyelid

· Cut, scratched or punctured eye

· One eye that does not move as completely as the other

· One eye that protrudes more than the other

· Layer of blood between the cornea and iris.

The American Public Health Association addresses this issue in its “Promoting the Use of Protective Eyewear for Children in Sports” policy statement. Among those efforts promoted in this statement are recommendations to enact state legislation across the country that would require eye protection for children playing sports; to encourage health educators and facilitators of sports programs to teach the value of quality fitted sports protective eyewear; to conduct studies on the cost-effectiveness of sports protective eyewear; and the employment of risk management strategies by insurance companies promoting the use of protective eyewear.

Upwards of 90 percent of sports eye injuries can be prevented through the proper use of protective eyewear. Injuries can range from temporary to permanent vision loss. This is indeed a public health concern that must be addressed.

Monday, April 4, 2011

One-a-Day Action Steps for Children’s Product Safety

Today’s guest blog is by Jessica Gawrysiak of Kids In Danger (KID). KID is a nonprofit dedicated to protecting children by improving children’s product safety.

KID’s new report, Moving toward Safety, finds that there were 160 recalls for children’s products in 2010, covering over 44 million individual products from last year alone – most of which remain undetected in homes and child care facilities.

During National Public Health Week, check your children’s products for recalls and other safety issues with these easy action steps from KID, one for each day.

1. Take inventory of your children’s products for safety. Use KID’s Child Product Inventory Sheet to track products you buy and use to care for your child. Check your list against the one maintained by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and sign up for CPSC’s alerts to stay up-to-date.

2. Visit the new public database website. Launched on March 11, CPSC’s new publicly-accessible product safety database will, for the first time, give you a place to submit and view report of problems with products, or incidents and injuries associated with consumer products, to help you learn of and remove unsafe children’s products before someone gets hurt. Visit KID’s blog post on the database to learn more.

3. Check your crib for safety. In December, CPSC adopted the world’s toughest crib standards following recalls of millions of cribs due to entrapment deaths and injuries. While cribs will now be tested to rigorous standards, it is important to check your crib for recalls and other safety issues. Learn more about the new standards and what they mean to you.

4. Spread the word. Sign up for KID’s safety email alerts and encourage friends and family to do the same. Pass on the important message of children’s safety in your community.

5. Prepare for yard sale season: With nicer weather quickly approaching, yard sale season is upon us. Follow these Yard Sale Safety Tips and check to make sure your donations are safe.

6. Understand car seat safety: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is now advising parents to keep children in rear-facing car seats until age 2 or until the child reaches maximum height and weight limit for the seat. Learn more. Read other car seat safety tips here and make sure to check your car seat for recalls at the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) website.

7. Support KID: KID is proud to report a banner year in children’s product safety with tough new testing standards, the first formal warning against sleep positioners, the launch of the new public database and a ban on the dangerous drop-side crib design going into effect in June. Consider making a gift today to help KID continue our lifesaving work. Download this flyer for more ideas on how to support KID!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Preventing Injuries in the Health Care Setting

Today's blog entry is an article by Kathryn A. Swink, MPH, CPHQ, Research Associate to the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems.

Each year, nearly 385,000 health care personnel working in hospitals are exposed to bloodborne pathogens like HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C, as a result of inadvertent needlestick and sharps injuries. Fortunately, the risk of disease transmission following a sharps injury is relatively low. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • the risk of Hepatitis B infection is between 6 and 30 percent following a sharps exposure. However, immunization via the hepatitis B vaccine makes infection virtually impossible.
  • the risk of Hepatitis C infection is between 1.5 and 2 percent for those exposed.
  • the risk of HIV infection is roughly 0.3 percent following a sharps exposure.

Although the risk of developing an infection is rare, hospitals across the country, including members of the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems (NAPH), actively work to prevent sharps injuries among their patients and healthcare personnel. One of the most important ways of preventing sharps injuries among healthcare personnel is through education, not only in the methods to prevent an injury, but also in the necessary precautions that should be followed if an exposure occurs.

The CDC has a very informative webpage on “Sharps Safety for Healthcare Settings” with helpful education and training materials and tools to plan and implement “Sharps Safety” programs in the healthcare setting. Additionally, you can check out some of the educational materials about occupational hazards, including sharps injuries provided to employees of NAPH member Ohio State University Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio.

Knowledge of safety precautions is key to preventing sharps injuries and exposure to infections. During National Public Health Week, remember the old saying, “No safety, know pain; know safety, no pain.”