Objective To compare work injuries treated in an emergency department (ED) and injuries reported to the Danish Working Environment Authority (DWEA).
Methods Work injuries of the ED, Odense University Hospital, and injuries from the geographical catchment area reported to the DWEA between 2003 and 2010 were included. The injuries included in both datasets were identified by merging the ED file and the DWEA file using the civil registry number and injury date information as key.
Results Approximately 50 000 work injuries occurred in the catchment area of the ED. The intersection between the two injury registration systems was 16%. A major discordance concerned the type of injuries, as some injuries were seen frequently in the ED but not reported to the DWEA to any significant extent, for example ‘eye injuries’ and ‘superficial lacerations or wounds’. On the other hand, some injuries are rarely seen in the ED, but often reported to the DWEA, for example ‘low back pain’. Additionally, younger workers visit the ED more often than older workers, and injuries in the high risk sectors have the lowest reporting proportion.
Conclusions Neither the ED nor DWEA injury files alone give a complete picture of work injuries. But merged, they represent a significant number of injuries, taking into account differences in data sources, for example concerning uneven distribution of age, sex, type of injury and type of industry. Obviously, not all serious work related ED injuries resulting in lost work time are reported to the DWEA.
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