Statistics on emergency department treatment of dog injuries in the USA

Stats on dog bites USA.

A study published in 1998 sheds some light on the incidence of emergency department treatment of dog bites in America. The researchers took the data from the 1992-94 National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Centre for Health Statistics was the overall administrator of this data.

Over the period 1992-94 there were approximately 274 million emergency department visits which equates to 91 million visits per year.

If you’d like to read about the study in detail on how they conducted it then please click on the following link accompanying the citation:

Weiss HB, Friedman DI, Coben JH. Incidence of Dog Bite Injuries Treated in Emergency Departments. JAMA. 1998;279(1):51–53. doi:10.1001/jama.279.1.51

The ages of the victims of dog bites in this study ranged from one year to 91 years with an average of 15 years. Dog bites are much more common in children between the ages of 0-9 and especially boys. The highest number of bites concerned boys between the ages of 5-9 at 60.7 ED visits per 10,000 persons. The estimated 57,580 dog-bite related visits for boys in this age bracket represents 3.6% of all industry-related ED visits in this age and sex group.

Concerning the body parts of the people bitten by dogs (and in about 66% of cases the researchers could determine the area of the anatomy bitten by the dog), the face, neck and head combined were the leading body part sites affected at 29% of the overall number.

Next in line as the most common area of anatomy were limbs and lower limbs. Concerning children in the age brackets 0-9, “53% of the injuries with [an] attributed injury site were to the face, head, and neck while all other ages had only 30% of the injuries occur to the face, head and neck.”

There was a slight trend towards seasonal distribution of the incidents but it is described as “nonsignificant”. Notwithstanding that the highest incidence were observed during the summer months.

The highest number of cases of dog bites occur in the southern region of the United States namely Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. Although when population is taken into account in these various states (population-adjusted) there was no significant difference between the states in terms of prevalence of dog bites.

More than half (58%) of dog bites occurred at the home which I presume is either inside the residence or in the yard outside the home. Dog bites are more likely to occur at the weekend.

When the victim was taken to hospital, the dog bite injuries were triaged at the ED as “urgent-emergent” in 46.1% of the visits and nonurgent for the remainder of the visits.

Ninety-six percent of patients visiting EDs at hospitals in America were treated at the ED and released from the ED. The four percent remainder were admitted to the hospital or they were transferred to another facility.

Ninety-four percent of the dog bite cases were given a calculated ISS score (Injury Severity Score) and 99% of them were assessed as low severity which means that 1% or one in a hundred were assessed as being severe dog bites.

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