Dog bite hospitalizations up 86% in 16 years

The number of people hospitalized due to dog bites in the United States increased by 86 percent between 1993 and 2008, the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) reported.

The agency found that in 2008, there were 316,200 Emergency Department (ED) visits and 9,500 hospital stays related to dog bites, representing a rate of 103.9 ED visits and 3.1 hospital stays per 100,000 population. On average, every day there were 866 ED visits and 26 hospitalizations related to dog bites.

Data from the agency also found that in 2008:

  • The top five principal diagnoses for dog bite victims were:
  1. Skin and subcutaneous tissue infections
  2. Open wounds of extremities
  3. Open wounds of head, neck, and trunk
  4. Fracture of upper limb
  5. Other connective tissue disease
  • More than half (58 percent) of dog bite-related hospitalizations involved a surgical procedure. The most frequent procedure was wound debridement of wound. Other procedures included suture of skin and subcutaneous tissue, incision and drainage of skin and subcutaneous tissue, and skin grafts.
  • Seniors and young children were most likely to be hospitalized for a dog bite. For 65-84 year olds, there were 4.5 hospital stays per 100,000 people, for people age 85 and older, there were 4.2 stays per 100,000 and for children under 5 there were 4 stays per 100,000.
  • There were four times as many dog bite-related ED visits and three times as many hospital stays in rural areas compared to urban areas.

Source: AHRQ data

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