Research/studies Agriculture, forestry and fishing

Trauma care for injured farmers often delayed by almost an hour compared with other rural workers: study

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Iowa City, IA — Farmers who require trauma care after suffering work-related injuries take nearly one hour longer to arrive at a hospital than their rural counterparts who are similarly injured while working in other industries – extra time that can often make a difference in recovery time, or even life or death, researchers say.

Analyzing 2005-2011 data from the Iowa State Trauma Registry, researchers at the University of Iowa identified 748 rural workers who had suffered traumatic work-related injuries – 21% of whom were farmers. The median time for the farmers to arrive at a hospital that provided the specialized trauma care they needed was 2 hours, 46 minutes, compared with 1 hour, 48 minutes for the non-farm workers.

However, “for injuries that took longer than two hours to reach definitive trauma care, differences in farm and rural non-farm injuries had similar times to access care,” a university press release states.

Corinne Peek-Asa, study co-author and professor of occupational and environmental health, cited numerous factors that make it more difficult for farmers to reach trauma centers quickly, including long distances to specialized emergency rooms and the “often lengthy period of time” required for paramedics to arrive at farms.

 

Although the researchers didn’t examine the reasons behind why farmers needed more time to receive treatment than their rural counterparts with similar time and distance concerns, Peek-Asa offered the following possibilities:

  • Farmers may be injured while working in isolation and not discovered until later
  • They may suffer more traumatic injuries caused by heavy machinery or animals they work with that require more on-scene stabilization by paramedics
  • Reluctance to seek care

The study was published online July 1 in the journal Injury Epidemiology.

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