Hospitalization for Dog-Bite Related Injuries Has Increased


According to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the number of people admitted to the hospital because of dog bites has increased by 86% since 1993.

The statistical brief written for the AHRQ by Anne Elixhauser, PhD and Laurel Holmquist, M.A presents data from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) on dog bite-related emergency department (ED) visits and inpatient hospitalizations in 2008. Age, hospital location, and patient residence are explored, as well as the most common principal diagnoses and procedures for dog bite-related hospital stays.

The data spanning 16 years, 1993 to 2008,revealed an increase in dog-bite related hospital stays from 5,100 in 1993 compared to 9,500 in 2008.

Concentrating on the data from 2008, the authors note that of 866 people seen on an average day in the emergency department 26 people were admitted to the hospital for treatment of dog bites.

Those most likely to be hospitalized for a dog bite are seniors and young children. 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 in 2008.


The 2008 data revealed it matters where you live. It turns out that rural residents are 4 times as likely as urban residents to to be seen in emergency department for dog bites (119 visits per 100,000 people versus 29 visits per 100,000 people). Rural residents also had 3 times as many hospital admissions (nearly 3 stays per 100,000 rural residents versus less than 1 stay per 100,000 urban residents).

About 43 percent of people hospitalized for dog bites required treatment for skin and underlying tissue infection. Most of these occurred on the legs or arms (22%). Wounds of the head, neck, and torso accounted for 10.5%. Other injuries ranged from bone fracture to blood poisoning.

More than half (58%) of all people who were hospitalized required a procedure such as wound debridement, sutures, and skin grafts.

Treating patients admitted for dog bites cost hospitals an average of $18,200 per patient and $54 million overall.

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Agency for Health Research and Quality
Emergency Department Visits and Inpatient Stays involving Dog Bites, 2008; November 2010.