More people injured at home during early months of COVID-19

The number of Australians who were hospitalised for an injury that occurred at home increased during the initial COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020, while fewer people were injured in public places, according to a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Injury in Australia 2019-20 also shows males made up most of the 527,000 hospitalisations and 13,400 deaths due to injuries.

‘Most injuries, whether accidental or intentional, are preventable, yet they remain a major cause of hospitalisation and death in Australia,’ said AIHW spokesperson Dr. Adrian Webster (PhD).

‘COVID-19 restrictions contributed to a decrease in injury-related hospitalisations in the early months of 2020, with 14% fewer admissions between March and May compared with the previous year. However, as restrictions eased, injury admissions rose and by June 2020 were similar to previous years.

‘COVID-19 restrictions also changed the location of where injuries occurred. There were fewer injuries at community locations such as schools, sporting areas and shopping centres. Meanwhile, injuries at home were more frequent from April onwards.’

The largest decreases in injury-related hospitalisations between March and May 2020 were for causes such as drowning, electricity and air pressure, contact with living things (including bites and stings), and forces of nature (including natural disasters). 

In 2019-20, males made up 55% of all injury hospitalisations and almost two thirds (62%) of injury deaths.

Males had higher rates of hospitalised injury than females across all causes, except for falls and intentional self-injury. Males had higher rates of injury death than females in every cause category.

For both males and females, falls were the leading cause of injury hospitalisation, followed by contact with objects (including blunt or sharp objects) and transport accidents.

‘Of the fall-related hospitalisations in 2019–20, furniture was involved in 28% of cases among young children aged 0–4, playing equipment was involved in 26% of cases among older children aged 5–14, and as people aged, slips, trips and stumbles were responsible for a greater proportion of hospitalisations,’ Dr. Webster said.

The report does not cover emergency department presentations where a patient was treated without admission to hospital. 

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