Climbing-Related Injury Among Adults in the United States: 5-Year Analysis of the National Emergency Department Sample. Wilderness & environmental medicine Forrester, J. D., Tran, K., Tennakoon, L., Staudenmayer, K. 2018


BACKGROUND: Rock climbing and mountaineering are popular outdoor recreational activities. More recently, indoor climbing has become popular, which has increased the number of persons at risk for climbing-related injuries.OBJECTIVE: To assess the morbidity, mortality, and healthcare cost due to climbing-related injury among persons presenting to US emergency departments (ED).METHODS: We performed a retrospective analysis of the 2010 to 2014 National Emergency Department Sample database, a nationally representative sample of all visits to US EDs. Rock climbing, mountain climbing, and wall climbing injuries were identified using International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification codes (E004.0). Outcomes evaluated included morbidity, mortality, inpatient admission, and costs. Adjusted analyses accounting for survey methodology were performed.RESULTS: A weighted-estimate 15,116 adult ED visits were associated with climbing-related injury. Patient age was 32.8±14.7 (mean±SD) (95% CI: 32.1-33.5) y, and 62% of patients were male. The majority of the injuries occurred in the Western census region (9593; 63%). Less than 1% of all climbing-related visits resulted in death. Only of injury severity score >15 was associated with death (P=0.005). A total of 1610 (11%) of patients were admitted as inpatients. Accounting for ED and inpatient costs, climbing-related injuries cost the US healthcare system approximately $102 (95% CI: $75-130) million USD for the 5-y period, averaging $20±9.5million USD per y.CONCLUSIONS: Most persons with climbing-related injuries presenting to EDs do not require inpatient admission. Although death is rare among patients with climbing-related injuries, the costs of injuries in survivors remain high.

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