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Health Care District of Palm Beach County’s Data Shows Marked Rise in the Number of Traumatic Injuries Countywide

As Trauma Awareness Month ends, the Health Care District of Palm Beach County’s Trauma Agency is sharing 2023 traumatic injury data and trends.  The rate of trauma-related injuries in the county has doubled over the past 12 years, and these injuries can often be prevented. 

“Some factors that might contribute to the sharp increase of traumatic injuries include the county’s population growth, an aging population, as well as increased engagement in high-risk activities, such as the use of electric bikes and scooters and underage golf cart driving,” said Dr. Belma Andric, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer for the Health Care District of Palm Beach County. “In the trauma field, it’s often said people end up in trauma centers due to velocity, gravity, or poor judgment, factors that are often in our control.” 

Trauma Injuries Graphic

In 2023, the county’s two Level 1 trauma centers, Delray Medical Center and St. Mary's Medical Center, treated 5,876 Palm Beach County residents and visitors for traumatic injuries, marking a 5% increase from 2022, a 26% increase from five years ago and a nearly 100% increase since 2012. These statistics encompass all patients treated at these two centers who met trauma alert criteria requiring they receive highly specialized, time-sensitive care. 

For 2023, falls continued to be the most common type of traumatic injury in Palm Beach County, accounting for 47% of all trauma cases. Motor vehicle crashes accounted for 33%, followed by assaults (7%), burns (3%), unintentional injuries (3%), etc. Below are some of the most noteworthy mechanisms of injury.

Most of the nearly 3,000 traumatic falls in 2023 involved senior adults during their daily activities. In response to these concerning numbers, the Health Care District launched the “HCD Prevent Falls PBC” app with falls prevention resources, including providing free Tai Chi balance classes countywide. 

Also, last year, 154 people suffered injuries requiring trauma-center care just from falling off their beds, including nearly 30 children, most of them two years old and younger. Over the past five years, more than 150 children in the county have been traumatically injured falling from beds, and 102 have been injured from falling while being carried, including 22 last year alone, most often due to not being safely secured in a baby carrier.

Pediatric Falls from Bed Image

Golf Cart Injuries
In 2023, 47 people in Palm Beach County suffered traumatic injuries while on a golf cart; an alarming 70% of them were youngsters between the ages of 12 and 15.  Florida law now requires teens to have a learner’s permit at age 15 or a driver’s license at age 16 to operate a golf cart legally. To ensure safety on and off the golf course, follow state rules and regulations, designate a responsible driver, obey speed limits, and refrain from driving on uneven or steep terrain. 

Golf Cart Injury Image

ATV Injuries
Over the past five years, more than 200 people in Palm Beach County, including 81 children, sustained ATV-related injuries requiring transfer to trauma centers – with 33 cases occurring in 2023 alone. Riders can help reduce the risk of injury by wearing helmets, goggles, and other gear, taking a safety course, supervising young riders, and avoiding risky maneuvers. 

ATV Injury Image

Electric Bike and Scooter Injuries
Over the past five years, 64 people in Palm Beach County required transport to trauma centers due to injuries sustained on an electric bike or scooter, with a whopping 40 occurring in 2023 alone. This recent exponential increase is concerning as more people engage in these activities, and we see more of these vehicles on our roadways. To prevent injuries, wear a helmet, follow road rules, conduct regular maintenance checks, and ride responsibly.  

E-Bike and Electric Scooter Image

“Simple safety measures can reduce the growing incidence of traumatic injuries in the county,” said Joel Rosales, Trauma Agency Nurse Manager. “By raising awareness and empowering residents with knowledge and resources, we can significantly reduce the risk of preventable injuries in our community.”

For more information on the Health Care District’s Trauma Agency and interventions to help prevent traumatic injury, visit