Although public health practice often focuses on preventing, treating and curing chronic illness and disease, the scope of public health practice also includes injury prevention. Injuries are a leading cause of death for Americans across all demographics. Equally significant are the short and long-term disabilities suffered by those who survive a traumatic injury. Public health departments play a crucial role in injury prevention efforts. These efforts include preventing accidental as well as intentional injuries.
To date, every state and the District of Columbia have passed a sports concussion law. This table contains information on state concussion laws, including which states require return-to-play protocols for student athletes, which type of provider can issue a return-to-play clearance, and whether or not the law applies to recreational sports.
Motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for teenagers in the U.S. One often-overlooked issue in crash prevention is tire maintenance. A 2012 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 12 percent of crashes among inexperienced drivers were tire-related, while only 5 percent of crashes among experienced drivers were tire-related, suggesting that inexperienced drivers may lack knowledge about safe vehicle maintenance. Efforts to standardize and promote driver education across the country may be one way to address this issue.
May 15, 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. EST. In 2014, while under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager, the city of Flint, Michigan, switched its water source from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to the Flint River. As a result, lead from the aging service lines to homes leached into the drinking water and poisoned thousands of Flint residents. A team of Network attorneys recently published an analysis examining legal aspects of the Flint water crisis. In this webinar, two of the report’s authors will explore the complex legal arrangements at the heart of the crisis and review recommended changes to the relevant laws and their implementation. Then, a health disparities researcher and an activist and community organizer, both based in Flint, will jointly present a community-level response to the crisis. View the playback.
All 50 states and the District of Columbia have now modified their laws to increase access to naloxone, a drug that can reverse the effects of an overdose to heroin or other opioid painkillers. The Network was recently asked about the number of states in which naloxone can be purchased “over the counter”. While there are a wide variety of steps that states, localities, and private businesses can take to increase access to naloxone, they cannot make it available “over the counter” or “without a prescription.”
The scope of injuries addressed by public health practitioners is broad and includes:
View a comprehensive list of injury topics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site.
Injury prevention researchers attempt to identify environmental and behavioral risk factors and patterns that contribute to injury. Public health lawyers use the results of this research to use or change laws to ensure that they effectively prevent or reduce the causes of injury. For example, research that revealed that children under 80 pounds were much less likely to suffer serious injury in a motor vehicle accident if restrained in a car seat led to successful efforts to secure laws mandating the use of child safety seats in states across the country. Likewise, research has shown face-to-face patient counseling to be an effective method of reducing accidental medication poisonings, leading public health professionals to work with pharmacists to develop protocols for such counseling. In turn, public health lawyers routinely work with public health researchers, policy makers, legislators and others to develop and secure effective laws and policies designed to discourage risky behavior and increase safety in the home, at work and in the community.
The Network is uniquely situated to provide technical assistance based on sound research to help those committed to public health develop, implement and enforce effective injury prevention policies and programs.
For legal technical assistance and support with injury prevention:
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The Network for Public Health Law provides information and technical assistance on issues related to public health. The legal information and assistance provided does not constitute legal advice or legal representation. For legal advice, please consult specific legal counsel. For more information on the type of legal assistance the Network can provide, please see frequently asked questions.