About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland (PHS) reports on emergency hospital admissions and deaths as a result of unintentional injury.

Main points

  • In 2021/22, there were just over 57,100 emergency admissions for unintentional injuries. This represents 1 in 10 of all emergency admissions in Scotland. In 2021, unintentional injuries led to 2,751 deaths.
  • Road traffic accidents in each of the last two years have been impacted by COVID-19 restrictions, with periods of lockdown resulting in a decrease in road traffic accident admissions and deaths. Chart 1 shows a decrease of 15% in the road traffic accident admission rate between 2019/20 to 2021/22.
Image caption Emergency hospital admissions as a result of a road traffic accident; rates for all ages, by sex, year ending 31 March 2013 to 2022
A line graph showing the Emergency hospital admissions as a result of a road traffic accident; rates for all ages, by sex, year ending 31 March 2013 to 2022.
  • Falls were by far the most common cause of emergency admissions for unintentional injuries in children, for both males and females, accounting for almost half (46%) of the 5,919 emergency admissions in 2021/22.
  • The rate of falls in those aged 65 and over has increased from 20.7 per 1,000 in 2012/13 to 22.5 per 1,000 in 2021/22. 87% of unintentional injuries in this age group were due to falls.
  • There remains a significant gap in the standardised mortality ratios between the most deprived and least deprived areas in Scotland. Death rates due to unintentional injuries in adults were 96% higher in the most deprived areas but 50% lower in the least deprived areas when compared to the Scottish average.


Unintentional injuries can occur in any age group, but children and the elderly are more vulnerable. The term ‘unintentional injury’ is used rather than ‘accidents’ as ‘accident’ implies that events are unavoidable when actually a high proportion of these incidents are preventable.

The information comes from hospital administrative systems across Scotland, up to and including the financial year 2021/22 and from death registrations sourced from National Records of Scotland, up to and including calendar year 2021.

Further information

The next release of this publication will be October 2023.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please contact phs.benchmarkingproject@phs.scot.

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If you have a media enquiry relating to this publication, please contact the Communications and Engagement team.

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Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 10 October 2022
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