Report details causes of death

Unintentional injury is the leading cause of death in Nevada for people ages 1 to 44, according to a report released Tuesday.

The leading cause of injury — both nonfatal and fatal — is motor vehicle accidents, according to the report by the Southern Nevada Health District’s Office of Emergency Medical Services and Trauma System.

The trauma system report, made up of injury and mortality data from the area’s three trauma centers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Nevada State Health Division and the Clark County coroner’s office, provides a broad overview of the system as well as the types of trauma injuries and deaths that occur in the county.

It is the first of its kind since the development of the trauma system in 2005, said Rory Chetelat, the system’s manager.

Chetelat said the report will be used to prevent injuries and deaths.

“Suicides, homicides and motor vehicles,” Chetelat said. “Those are the biggest problems we have.”

The report’s findings, based on 2005 data for Nevada, include:

• Homicide is the second leading cause of death in children ages 1 to 9.

• Suicide is the second leading cause of death, and homicide the third leading cause of death, in the 15 to 34 age group.

• Suicide is the third leading cause of death in children ages 10 to 14.

Dr. John Fildes, chief of the division of trauma and critical care at University Medical Center, said the trauma system report provides valuable information, especially when trying to determine how best to prevent unintentional injuries and deaths.

“We are looking at a large number of deaths that occur before people even reach the emergency room, especially motor vehicle and pedestrian accidents,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do along with the work we’ve already done.”

Like Chetelat, Fildes said those in emergency services as well as the community work with law enforcement and injury prevention organizations in Southern Nevada.

He also said parents and peers of children who are dealing with stress need to be more observant.

Donna Wilburn, a marriage and family therapist, said it’s not known why suicide is a leading cause of death among children in Southern Nevada. But, she said, children who are attempting and committing suicides do so because their parents or adults don’t necessarily take the stress children have seriously.

“They (parents or adults) don’t get that children lack the skills they need to cope with stress so they consider suicide as an option,” Wilburn said. “In my practice, I’ve heard parents try to compare their child’s stress to that of their own. There’s no comparison because stress is subjective. From a child’s perspective, stress is overwhelming.”

Fildes said suicides are preventable as are motor vehicle accidents.

Other findings in the report included:

• The age and gender distribution of traumatic injuries in the county is similar to the distribution at the national level.

• Seventy-two percent of trauma patients who are admitted to the hospital or die as a result of their injuries are male.

• Blunt injuries account for 83 percent of trauma patients who are admitted or die in the county trauma centers.

• Fifty-six percent of injury related deaths occur at the scene of the emergency.

These injuries not only take a toll on the person injured and their families, but they also generate significant social and economic expenses for medical treatment and lost productivity, the report states.

The county’s trauma system consists of UMC, Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, and St. Rose Dominican Hospital Siena Campus as well as all emergency medical service workers and the Office of Emergency Medical Services and Trauma System.

UMC is Nevada’s only level I trauma center. Sunrise is Level II and St. Rose is Level III.

The trauma system was developed in 2005 to coordinate services among the trauma units as well as promote injury prevention, facilitate the delivery of specialized trauma care and evaluate the performance of trauma services.

Data from the University of Nevada Las Vegas’ Center for Health Information Analysis also was used in the study.

Contact reporter Annette Wells at or 702-383-0283.

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