University of Iowa researchers say many farming-related injuries are under reported

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - A new University of Iowa study shows more than 80% of farm-related injuries are underreported.

Researchers say having that information is helpful with prevention methods, but getting those numbers is challenging. Electronic medical records in hospitals don't show if the person was working when they were injured.

Experts use the Iowa Trauma Data Registry from the Iowa Department of Public Health to get the information. It collects data on if the injury was farm-related. When they looked at those injuries and who paid for them, only about 18% were paid for by worker's compensation sources.

Farmers used private insurance, and sometimes Medicare to cover the cost.

Researchers say they need accurate information to track what injury trends they are seeing and how they can prevent them. That's because they bring a lot of hospital costs and takes the farmer away from the field for a long time.

It's good for insurance providers, too.

"They need accurate data to help set the premiums and the cost, but also worker's compensation can serve as an incentive for safety because you want to reduce your premium cost,” said Corinne Peek-Asa, Associate Dean for Research at the University of Iowa. “So if the injuries are being covered in other sources, workers compensation can't be used in that way"

Researchers say the easiest fix for accurate records would be for hospitals to include work-related injuries in their electronic medical records. They say they have reached out, but the companies that make the software are difficult to connect with about changes.

They say farm injuries can be pretty severe. They involve machinery, and falling, and can lead to them being in the hospital for a long time.