In February, the National Audit Office called the number of accidental injuries across the country a 'disgrace', with 2 million children a year visiting accident and emergency due to an accident.

In February, the National Audit Office called the number of accidental injuries across the country a 'disgrace', with 2 million children a year visiting accident and emergency due to an accident.

The NAO chooses its language clumsily. The word accident implies a chance event, something controlled by fate. This is why most injury prevention practitioners deplore the use of the word 'accident'; research suggests the majority of injuries are predictable and preventable. A number of charities have addressed this issue; The charity Smartrisk concentrates a range of distinct programmes around the 10-24 age group.

This data briefing tackles trends in preventable injuries and the costs they imply. While an incentive should not be necessary, the significant cost to commissioning may be a means of applying greater pressure for action.

The first table shows, by strategic health authority, the rate of preventable injuries among the 10-24-year-olds for which the outcome was a hospital admission, and the hospital costs associated with reducing their number by 10 per cent. In total this figure is over£22m, the most significant primary care trust being Hampshire, one of the largest in population terms. The two northern-most SHAs have the highest number of preventable injuries. Interestingly the most urban, London, has the lowest.

The second table shows the trend in the number of preventable injuries going back to Q2 2004-05. There is a strong seasonal effect to these injuries which in some instances might be argued to lend evidence to the debate around moving our clocks backwards and forwards each year.

The third table breaks from the totals shown above three high-volume and well-publicised types of preventable injury: pedestrians, falls and self-harm. Were one to put a regression line through these it would be possible to see slight rises in all of them. Whether this is down to improved coding, more reporting or a genuine increase is probably impossible to judge. But the monthly figures will provide a benchmark of PCT success in addressing preventable injuries.

Analysis of hospital data is infinite and can easily be applied outside of the usual length of stay, day-case activity and so on. Statistics on preventable injuries are just one new use to which the data can be put, future examples from Dr Foster Intelligence will include 'adverse incidents' in hospitals and analysis of how targets such as 18 weeks are being worked towards.

Dr Marc Farr is market development manager at Dr Foster Intelligence. Phone 020-7256 4916 or visit www.drfosterintelligence.co.uk