Objectives: School injuries are a serious public health problem, yet classroom injuries have received little attention. The purpose of this study was to describe the epidemiology of classroom injuries in Utah public schools.
Methods: Utah statewide school injury data on kindergarten through 12th grade students for 1996 through 1998 were used. The data were generated from a standardized Student Injury Report (SIR) form completed by school personnel for injuries that (1) caused loss of at least one half of a day of school or (2) warranted medical attention and treatment. Injuries occurring in laboratories, shop, and physical education classes were excluded. To determine the medical outcome and charges associated with classroom injuries, the authors probabilistically linked the SIR database to Utah statewide emergency department (ED) records and Utah statewide hospital inpatients discharge records for 1996 through 1998.
Results: During the period 1996 through 1998, there were 1,366 classroom injuries. Nearly two thirds of the injuries occurred to male students. More than half the classroom injuries were related to equipment use. Weapon use was rare. Twenty percent of students injured in the classroom obtained treatment in an ED, where 71% of these injuries were determined to involve the head, neck, and upper extremity. Two incidents, one involving carbon monoxide and the other tear gas, accounted for 11% of the ED admissions.
Conclusions: Classroom injuries are not sufficiently frequent, severe, or costly to justify special studies focused solely on acute injuries in standard classrooms. This does not negate the need for continued surveillance of classroom injuries along with other school injuries.