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Medical emergencies in farmers

Reece SCM, Thiruchelvam D, Redelmeier DA. J Rural Health. 2018; 35(4):429-35. Epub 2018 Nov 16. DOI: 10.1111/jrh.12336.


Background — Agricultural work involves hazards that may harm long‐term well‐being. We evaluated the risk of long‐term disability and death for agricultural workers compared to construction workers with similar demographics. We hypothesized that delays to emergency care and subsequent long‐term disability following injury might be worse for agricultural workers compared to those injured in construction.

Methods — We evaluated all adults severely injured on farms or on construction sites in Ontario, Canada, between April 1, 2009, and March 31, 2012, according to the Ontario Trauma Registry. We excluded individuals living outside of the province, those missing a valid health card number, or youth less than 17 years old. Our primary outcome was death or the subsequent application for disability support.

Results — In total, 353 patients were injured on a farm or construction site during the study period. Delays to emergency care exceeding 12 hours were more frequent for agricultural workers compared to construction workers (43% vs 23%, P <.001). After a 5‐year follow‐up, agricultural workers had a death or disability rate marginally higher than construction workers (23% vs 14%, P = .068), equivalent to a hazard ratio of 1.62 that was marginally statistically significant (95% confidence interval 0.96‐2.75, P = .072). The risk of death and disability was greatest for patients who had the longest delays to emergency care.

Interpretation — Agricultural workers experience a substantial delay in receiving emergency care and a marginally higher risk of death or disability in the years following injury compared to construction workers.

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