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From Products Liability Law Daily, January 6, 2014

CPSC report discusses consumer product-related injuries by age group

By Joe Bichl

In a recent report on consumer product-related injuries and fatalities, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) found that persons 65 years of age and older have higher rates of medically treated, consumer product-related injuries and consumer product-related deaths than those between the ages of 55 to 64.1. The report, CPSC Hazard Screening Report: Consumer Product-Related Injuries to Persons 65 Years of Age and Older, which collected injury and fatality data under 28 different product groups, was released by the agency on December 23, 2013.

ER-treated injuries. CPSC’s data on product-related injuries indicated nearly 2 million injuries to persons age 65 and older were seen in emergency rooms (ERs) in 2011. Divided by the entire population that age, the 2 million injuries equate to 4.8 visits per 100 seniors in 2011. Broken down further, the report found that 36.1 percent of the injured were between the ages of 65 and 74, with 34.8 percent between 75 and 84, and 29.1 percent aged 85 and older. Nearly two-thirds (63.6 percent) of victims were women versus 36.4 percent men.

Three quarters of the consumer product-related injuries were due to falls, by far the most common hazard to seniors, CPSC reported. Hospital ER data showed that nearly 800,000 injuries associated with stairs, ramps, landings, or floors were associated with ER visits.

The agency report also discovered that, by contrast, there were some 5.4 million consumer product-related injuries to adults between 25 and 64 years of age seen in emergency rooms. When divided by the population that age, this equates to 3.2 visits per 100 between the ages of 25 to 64 years in 2011.

Fatal incident statistics. According to the report, more than 4,000 fatal consumer product-related incident reports have been received by CPSC for incidents that occurred in 2009 involving adults 65 and older. Again, as with the injury statistics, falls were found to be a common element in these fatalities. More than 2,300 fatality reports were associated with stairs, ramps, landings, or floors.

Changes in the senior population. Between 2002 and 2011, the estimated number of adults 65 and older increased from 35.5 million to 41.4 million (or 17 percent), according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The number of adults 85 and older increased from 4.4 million to 5.7 million (or 31 percent) over the same time period. CPSC suggested that, generally, a rise in the number of seniors would be expected to correspond to a rise in the estimated consumer product-related injuries to seniors treated in ERs.

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