National Electronic Injury Surveillance System

The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) is a national probability sample of emergency room visits involving injuries. From this sampling, a national estimate is made concerning the total number of injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms.1

The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System began in 1971. Once the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) was officially launched two years later, NEISS became its core data system for their Bureau of Epidemiology.2 Over their many years of operation, NEISS's sampling system has been updated and expanded four times.

Additionally, in 2000, a major expansion happened when the CPSC collaborated with the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to include all injuries instead of just injuries from consumer products. While this additional data is useful to government agencies, the public, and researchers, the CPSC's focus remains on product-related injuries.3

Due to the large number of injuries treated by emergency rooms and to the speed that these cases can be compiled through nightly computer data uploading, NEISS is an efficient and cost effective process for compiling data concerning product safety. This data is available to all through an online query process and yearly Data Highlights Reports.

The query search allows for up to eight different variables, such as date of injuries, products involved, age, sex, type and location of injury, and place of injury.4 The query response indicates the actual number of injuries in the sample and an estimate of injuries for the nation. Besides numerical data as a result of the query, all case descriptions after 2001 that are relevant to the query can be previewed and downloaded.

The NEISS Data Highlights Reports produced by CPSC focuses on seven product categories: Child Nursery Equipment, Toys, Sports and Recreational Equipment, Home Communication and Entertainment, Personal Use Items, Home Structures and Construction Materials, and Miscellaneous Products.

While all toys are considered together, the Sports and Recreational Equipment category has 28 subcategories, one of which is Playground Equipment. Each subcategory then lists the totals of estimated number of injuries nationally and the actual number of injuries reported. These totals are further broken down into categories of severity of treatment, sex, and age ranges.5

Besides being useful to manufacturers, government agencies, researchers, lawyers, and the public, this data has facilitated tracking general injury trends over all the years of NEISS. It has also indicated to CPSC staff areas that need a follow-back study for more in-depth information.

In 1988, the first of the two follow-back playground studies focused on the safety of surfacing materials. Through NEISS it was found that about 60% of playground injuries resulted from falls to the surface, that 90% of the most serious injuries came from falls, and that fractures were the most common injury.6

The second playground follow-back study was conducted in 1999, which quantified that each year an estimate of over 200,000 children are injured on playgrounds. Of these injuries it is estimated that three-fourths occur on public playgrounds with nearly half of those happening at schools (45%) and about one third taking place in public parks (31%).7 Falls were again found to be the most common cause of injuries. This study, utilizing NEISS data from 1998-2000, led to the publication of the CPSC Playground-Related Statistics fact sheet.

  • 1. “National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) On-line.” US Consumer Product Safety Commission. < > 29 June 2011.
  • 2. “NEISS, The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System: A Tool for Researchers. March 2000.” US Consumer Product Safety Commission. Division of Hazard and Injury Data Systems. p. 3. < > 29 June 2011.
  • 3. Ibid. pp. 6-7.
  • 4. Op.cit., “National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) On-line.”
  • 5. “NEISS Data Highlights – 2009.” US Consumer Product Safety Commission. < > 22 June 2011.
  • 6. Op.cit., “NEISS, The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System: A Tool for Researchers. March 2000.” pp. 24-25.
  • 7. “Playground-Related Statistics from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.” SofSurfaces. < > 29 June 2011.