Arizona 2022 Trauma Report shows increasing rate of traumatic injuries and costs to healthcare system


Soraya Marashi


The Arizona Department of Health Services’ (ADHS) newly released 2022 Trauma Report identifies opportunities for preventing injuries and premature deaths in the state and highlights future resource needs for maintaining Arizona’s trauma system preparedness.


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The State Trauma Advisory Board published the report in collaboration with the ADHS Bureau of EMS and Trauma System.

The report notes that the overall trend of trauma incidents is increasing in Arizona. Between 2010 and 2021, the annual trauma rate per 100,000 people increased from 418 to 898, with 26,588 total trauma cases in 2010 and 65,396 total trauma cases in 2021. This represents a 12% increase from 2020, and trauma-related deaths also increased by 19% in 2021.

The graph below shows this trend:


Image: Arizona Department of Health Services


Female individuals age 65 and older had the highest trauma rate in 2021. The report also cites CDC data showing that Arizona’s age-adjusted injury mortality rate increased from 70 per 100,000 people in 2009 to 83 per 100,000 people in 2018—an 18.5% increase. 

“These data demonstrate a rapid increase in the number of traumatic injuries that are contributing to costly preventable injuries and premature deaths that place a constant strain on Arizona’s overburdened healthcare system,” ADHS stated about the data.

Among severely injured patients in 2021, the highest percentages of trauma incidents occurred with falls (41.97%), motorized vehicle occupants (20.86%), motorcyclists (6.54%), firearms (6.09%), and pedestrians hit by a motorized vehicle (5.70%). Falls also accounted for the highest number of deaths (220), followed by motorized vehicle occupants (194), firearms (191), and pedestrians struck by a motorized vehicle (101). 

The chart below shows the trauma rate per 100,000 people by the top 6 mechanisms of injury between 2019 and 2021.


Image: Arizona Department of Health Services


The report notes that nearly one-third of motorized vehicle occupants that were involved in an accident were not using a seatbelt, and nearly two-thirds of motorcyclists, pedal-cyclists, and off-road vehicle occupants involved in an accident were not wearing a helmet. 

According to ADHS, drug and alcohol use is also a significant risk factor associated with traumatic injuries. 25% of Arizonans involved in a traumatic injury were suspected or confirmed of being under the influence.

The report also highlights the growing number of trauma centers across the state. By 2020, there were 47 trauma centers in the state, including 13 level I/II centers and 33 level III/IV centers that, according to ADHS, have improved access to timely care in rural areas.

Arizona trauma centers have incurred significant increases in charges and decreases in reimbursement percentages over the last decade. In 2021, trauma centers reported $3.9 billion in charges and a hospital reimbursement percentage of around 12%. In 2010, trauma centers reported total charges of $1.2 billion with an approximate reimbursement percentage of 22%, which was 10% greater than in 2021.

ADHS emphasized the importance of funding community safety and injury prevention efforts to mitigate the increasing trauma burden in the state, “including targeted community prevention messaging, continuing education for healthcare providers, and supporting policies aimed at injury and violence prevention.”

ADHS also said the State Trauma Advisory Board should continue to provide guidance on public health policies that center around driver safety and helmet use.