Southern Arizona residents treated in the emergency department at Banner – University Medical Center Tucson may not be aware that for the past 35 years they have been helping the Arizona Emergency Medicine Research Center (AEMRC) and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) prevent product-related injuries and deaths.
“When you hear ‘according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission,’ followed by a warning about a dangerous consumer product, our hospital assisted in providing some of the data that helped to prevent further injury or death from that product,” said Harvey Meislin, MD, professor, University of Arizona Department of Emergency Medicine.
From setting safety standards for laundry detergent pods to banning toys, such as Buckyballs magnets, to recalling defective bicycles due to potential crash hazards, the CPSC is charged with protecting the public against unreasonable risks of injuries and deaths associated with consumer products. The CPSC relies on consumer-product-related injury and death data from hospital emergency departments across the country to form consumer product safety policy, identify potential recalls and injury trends and implement public health awareness campaigns.
Banner – University Medical Center Tucson is among approximately 100 hospitals across the United States that is contracted with the CPSC to track data on product-related injuries treated in emergency rooms. The hospital also participates in the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), sponsored by the CPSC. Surveillance data enable CPSC analysts to make timely national estimates of the number of injuries associated with specific consumer products. This data also provides evidence of the need for further study of particular products. Subsequent follow-up studies can yield important clues to the cause and likely prevention of injuries and deaths.
The program at Banner – University Medical Center is led by Dr. Meislin through the AEMRC. Each day, an emergency medicine coordinator reviews medical records and enters non-identifying information into a secure database linked to the CPSC. The information includes the cause of the accident, the type of injury and any specific products that were involved. Data from Banner – University Medical Center Tucson and other participating hospitals are analyzed and trends in product-related injuries are earmarked by CPSC staff for further study.
Banner – University Medical Center Tucson is the only hospital in Tucson that contracts with CPSC to provide data. It was chosen because of its size and the volume of emergency department patients treated, said Dr. Meislin. At Banner – University Medical Center Tucson, approximately 3,000 injuries treated in the emergency department each month are product-related, he said. AEMRC has received more than $6 million from its contracts with CPSC over the past 35 years.
“Dr. Meislin’s exceptional leadership of this effort has led the CPSC to acknowledge him, the staff and the Banner – University Medical Center Emergency Department as one of the top injury reporting sites in the entire country. This has undoubtedly helped keep Americans safer from potentially dangerous products,” said Sam Keim, MD, chair of the UA Department of Emergency Medicine and director of AEMRC.
An example of local data that could have played a major role in consumer safety is the banning of three-wheel all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). ATV-related injuries and fatalities are particularly prevalent in Arizona. Hospital emergency department data showed a large number of patients were injured from three-wheel ATVs, which were then determined by CPSC to be too unstable. That data, along with other hospitals’ data, helped to halt the distribution of three-wheel ATVs, said Dr. Meislin.
“The whole concept of CPSC is to protect society,” Dr. Meislin said. “To look at health hazards and prevent injuries. It is society’s safety net. We are proud to be a major contributor to the national database and be recognized by the CSPC as one of the top providers of data in the country.”
About the Arizona Emergency Medicine Research Center
The Arizona Emergency Medicine Research Center (AEMRC) is a collaborative statewide University of Arizona Center of Excellence dedicated to improving the health-care outcomes of patients with acute illness and injuries in both pre-hospital settings and within the hospital. A national leader in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding among centers and emergency departments, AEMRC has established a statewide clinical research network that conducts many studies, including current trials investigating neurological emergencies and cardiac arrest. The center brings together collaborative teams of multidisciplinary experts to achieve critical impact in areas affecting lives in Arizona today. For more information, please go to http://emergencymed.arizona.edu/aemrc.