Sun, Feb 19, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Group highlights need for injury surveillance system

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

A civic group yesterday urged the government to help fund a national injury surveillance system (ISS), a comprehensive database recording the causes of accidental injuries which the group claimed would help the government create a safer environment.

Specifically, the Taiwan Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion Association hopes the National Health Insurance Bureau (NHIB) will require hospitals to include International Classification of Diseases-External Causes-Codes, or ICD-9 E-codes in their transaction sheets when they apply for payment.

The code is now used by the WHO and the US National Center of Health to categorize causes of deaths and injuries for hospital and emergency room visits.

"The bureau and hospitals are closely related to each other," said the association chair, Pai Lu (白璐), in a speech at a seminar sponsored by the group yesterday. "The bureau can refuse to pay the hospitals if they fail to specify the cause of accidental injuries."

Pai, who is also an associate professor at the National Defense Medical College, said that at present the National Health Insurance requires hospitals to include references to the causes of accidental injuries for inpatients only and has failed to strictly enforce this regulation.

According to Pai, less than 50 percent of inpatients were registered with the ISS.

Pai also suggested that the bureau of medical affairs integrate this particular item into their evaluation of hospitals, through which they can given additional credits.

Representatives from the Department of Health, NHIB and the bureau of health promotion also attended the seminar yesterday.

NHIB representative Lee Li-hua (李麗花) reiterated the importance of registering with the Injury Surveillance System, as it would significantly reduce the medical compensation provided through the national health insurance system.

"Suppose an accident happened to someone at work. If it is registered in the system as a work-related hazard, that person's injury can be covered by the labor insurance paid by employers," Lee said.

"However, if the case is not registered with the system, it will be considered a general injury and will be paid for by the national insurance, which means everyone would be paying for the damage," Lee added.

Tseng Te-yun (曾德運), representing the health promotion bureau, said accidental injuries account for 12 percent of the cause of diseases worldwide. These include transportation injuries, violence and self-destruction. In Taiwan, transportation injuries were the No.1 cause of death in 2004.

Tseng said when the data, gathered through registry with the ISS, is analyzed, it will deliver proposals to help improve safety conditions in the environment.

Pai and a group of graduate students from the National Defense Medical Center helped to co-develop the ISS used in Taiwan.

The system classifies accidental injuries into eight categories, including transportation injuries, accidental falls, poisoning, drowning, suffocation and damages caused by people, plants and animals.

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