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Why The Rise of the App Has Put Thousands of People in the Hospital


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An inattentive girl walking, distracted by her mobile phone, crashed into street post.

People are being distracted by apps on their phones, and getting injured as a result.

Credit: Valeriy G./iStock/Getty Images

The numbers: A new study, published today in JAMA, uses data submitted through the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System database, which collects data on emergency room visits from 100 hospitals across the U.S. The researchers looked at cases describing injuries to the head and neck between January 1998 and December 2017, and then restricted the data to reports that mentioned cellphones. The final data set came out to about 2,500 injuries, mostly from trips and falls.

Doesn't seem like a lot: It's almost certainly more, since the NEISS database collects information from so few hospitals. These are also self-reported statistics, so there are big holes in the data here. Insurance or legal reasons are a big incentive to not mention you were using your phone at the time of the accident. The team estimated that the actual number of people with head and neck injuries from cellphone use could be as high as 76,000.

 

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