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Mortality, Mauling, and Maiming by Vicious Dogs

Bini, John K. MD; Cohn, Stephen M. MD; Acosta, Shirley M. RN, BSN; McFarland, Marilyn J. RN, MS; Muir, Mark T. MD; Michalek, Joel E. PhD; for the TRISAT Clinical Trials Group

doi: 10.1097/SLA.0b013e318211cd68
Original Articles

Objective: Maiming and death due to dog bites are uncommon but preventable tragedies. We postulated that patients admitted to a level I trauma center with dog bites would have severe injuries and that the gravest injuries would be those caused by pit bulls.

Design: We reviewed the medical records of patients admitted to our level I trauma center with dog bites during a 15-year period. We determined the demographic characteristics of the patients, their outcomes, and the breed and characteristics of the dogs that caused the injuries.

Results: Our Trauma and Emergency Surgery Services treated 228 patients with dog bite injuries; for 82 of those patients, the breed of dog involved was recorded (29 were injured by pit bulls). Compared with attacks by other breeds of dogs, attacks by pit bulls were associated with a higher median Injury Severity Scale score (4 vs. 1; P = 0.002), a higher risk of an admission Glasgow Coma Scale score of 8 or lower (17.2% vs. 0%; P = 0.006), higher median hospital charges ($10,500 vs. $7200; P = 0.003), and a higher risk of death (10.3% vs. 0%; P = 0.041).

Conclusions: Attacks by pit bulls are associated with higher morbidity rates, higher hospital charges, and a higher risk of death than are attacks by other breeds of dogs. Strict regulation of pit bulls may substantially reduce the US mortality rates related to dog bites.

In this retrospective review of patients admitted to our level I trauma center with dog bites during a 15-year period, we compared outcome measures for Pit Bull attacks to all other breeds and found significant differences in Injury Severity Scale score, admission Glasgow Coma Score, median hospital charges, and risk of death.

From the Department of Surgery, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, TX.

Reprints: Stephen M. Cohn, MD, FACS, Department of Surgery, University of Texas Health Science Center, 7703 Floyd Curl Drive, San Antonio, TX 78229. E-mail: cohn@uthscsa.edu.

In addition to the authors, the following were members of the TRISAT Clinical Trials Group: trauma faculty members, D. Dent, M. Corneille, S. Wolf, D. Mueller, B. Eastridge, G. Goodwiler, J. Gourlas, J. Oh; M. Bohnenblust, K. McBride, and biostatistician C. Louden.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.