European Commission announces a common definition of serious injury

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european-commission-announces-a-common-definition-of-serious-injuryWe have a far clearer picture of the number of road deaths there are versus the number of serious injuries. Current estimates suggest that for every road death there are 10 serious injuries. The question, however, across borders or even from city to city, is “what is a serious injury?”. Without a common definition, no accurate comparisons are possible, nor can the true magnitude of the problem be fully understood. A common definition is a prerequisite for the development of an effective EU injury strategy.

An injury strategy was the key topic for the EU High Level Group on Road Safety at its meeting in June 2012. The use of an established medical classification standard was seen as preferable, to which end the existing trauma scale ‘Maximum Abbreviated Injury Score’ (MAIS) was put forward. Using MAIS as the basis for a common EU definition was confirmed by the High Level Group in January 2013, and the announcement made through the release of a commission working document on March 19.

The MAIS is a globally accepted trauma scale used by the medical profession. It provides an objective and reliable basis for data collection. The injury score is determined at the hospital between a range of 1 to 6. Injuries classified as 3 or above are the most serious and are such that they cause significant and or long-term damage. This is where efforts should be focused.

The benefit of using this specific classification system is that it has high validity and reliability, it is also internationally comparable. Some EU Member States already use MAIS to classify road injuries and the system is well established so no new systems are required.

It is projected that in 2014, Member States will start reporting injury severity using the common defintion which is an important step in the development of the EU injury strategy.

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