Tuesday, August 4, 2020

A new study from the University of Iowa shows that farmers who suffer an on-the-job injury take more time to arrive at a hospital that provides the specialized trauma care they need than workers in other industries.

The study from the UI College of Public Health found that median time to care was one hour longer for farmers than other workers. It took farmers 2 hours and 46 minutes to arrive at a definitive trauma care center, compared to 1 hour 48 minutes for people who suffer rural, non-farm work injuries. However, that difference came in the first two hours after the injury was reported. 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.

Corinne Peek-Asa, professor of occupational and environmental health and study co-author, says the differences were primarily due to the time it takes to discover the injury and for medical personnel to reach the injured person. Once paramedics arrive, the time to provide care and begin transport was similar for all injuries.

Peek-Asa says that extra time can often make a difference in a person's recovery time, or even life or death.

Researchers used data from the Iowa State Trauma Registry on 748 workers in the state who suffered traumatic on-the-job injuries between 2005 and 2011, 21% of whom were farmers. Peek-Asa says numerous factors make it more difficult for farmers to quickly get to a trauma center, including long distances to specialized emergency rooms and the often lengthy period of time it takes for paramedics to arrive at the farm.

But the study found farmers took more time to get the help they needed than non-farmers who lived in rural areas and who faced the same time and distance obstacles. The study did not identify the causes for that difference, but Peek-Asa says it could be farmers injuring themselves while working in isolation and not being discovered until later; suffering more traumatic injuries caused by heavy machinery or animals they work with that require more on-scene stabilization by paramedics; or reluctance to seek care.

The study, “Time to definitive care among severely injured farmers compared to other work-related injuries in a Midwestern state,” was published in the journal Injury Epidemiology. It was co-authored by James Torner, UI professor of epidemiology, and Amanda Swanton of Dartmouth College.