Background: Unintentional home injuries impose significant, but little reported, costs to society. The most tangible are medical and indirect costs. A less-tangible cost is the value of lost quality of life due to impairment or death.
Methods: A societal perspective was adopted in estimating unintentional home injury costs. All costs associated with the injuries are included in the analysis-costs to victims, families, government, insurers, and taxpayers. The costs are incidence based, meaning all costs that will result from an injury over time are counted in the year that the injury occurs.
Results: Unintentional home injuries cost U.S. society at least $217 billion in 1998. The cost of fatal unintentional injuries alone was $34 billion, with nonfatal injuries accounting for the remaining $183 billion. The largest cost was the value of lost quality of life at $162 billion. Medical costs and indirect costs were $22 billion and $33 billion, respectively.
Conclusions: These estimates indicate that unintentional home injuries, especially falls, are a major problem in the United States. Falls are a particular problem in need of more attention.