The US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has published data regarding emergency department visits and inpatient stays involving dog bites. The comprehensive data from 2008 don’t provide any real surprises, but they demonstrate yet again the importance of dog bites and the need to take further steps to reduce their incidence.
Among the highlights:
- There were approximately 316 200 emergency department visits due to dog bites in 2008, with 9 500 people requiring hospitalization.
- On average, 866 people visited an emergency department and 26 were hospitalized from a dog bite every day.
- Bites requiring emergency visits or hospitalization were much more common in rural areas, and males were more commonly bitten than females.
- Children 5-9 years of age had the highest rates of emergency department visits due to dog bites, while hospitalization rates were highest for 65-84 year-olds.
- The average cost of a dog-bite-related hospital stay was $18 200. More than half of people hospitalized required surgery.
- 0.5% of people hospitalized for a dog bite died.
This report involved hospital record data only, so there was no way to assess why the bites happened. Not all bites are preventable, but a lot are. When you consider the huge impact of these injuries, both physically and economically, it’s clear that we have to do a better job preventing bites.