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Product recalls relay on data tracking systems

Have you ever wondered what determines which consumer goods will be pulled from the market in a recall after injuries occur during use of the products?

For the last three decades, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has been using a system to monitor consumers' injuries from products marketed and sold in America. The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System collects statistics on these injuries, which is then combined with data from additional sources to help the CPSC determine what course of action should be taken.

The Commission could decide to prepare a public safety awareness campaign, develop product safety standards or launch a recall of the products.

The NEISS gathers injury data from emergency rooms of about 100 hospitals. All have been pre-selected as probability samples of the total of more than 5,000 hospitals in the United States with emergency medicine departments. This data allows further analysis of the injuries that are associated with certain products on the market.

The system begins collecting data upon admission of a patient to the ER with injuries. The details of how the injury happened are noted and later reviewed by a NEISS coordinator. Those cases that meet the standards to be included in the system are then coded in.

Some incidents are flagged for follow-up investigations. Patients and/or their relatives participate in face-to-face and telephone interviews. Information regarding the incident with the product that caused the injuries is detailed and used for the following purposes:

-- Identify defective products.

-- Classify these incidents by a pattern of hazards.

-- Evaluate safety standards' efficacy.

-- Offer insight about what is necessary for the elimination or reduction of hazards.

If you suffer injuries from defective products, you might have grounds for filing a product liability lawsuit.

Source: Consumer Product Safety Commission, "National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS)," accessed Jan. 29, 201

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