Emergency Department presentations

An American study of ED presentations over 2010-2014 described approximately 6.5 million ED presentations resulting from animal-related injuries. Of these, approximately 2 out of 5 were for bites from non-venomous arthropods (such as mosquitos, fleas and ticks), just over a quarter were dog bites and just over 1 in 9 were from venomous reptiles. Approximately 3% of presentations were subsequently admitted as in-patients, and the number of deaths was extremely small. The study concluded that animal related injuries as a mechanism warrant further public health prevention efforts (Forrester, Forrester et al. 2018)

In Australia, the recording of external cause information is not as complete in the National Non-admitted Patient Emergency Department Care Database (NNAPEDCD) as the National Hospital Morbidity Database (NHMD).

This analysis quantified the number of ED records in 2021-22 where the following could be ascertained:

  • An injury diagnosis in any available primary or additional diagnosis variable AND
  • An external cause code related to contact with animals in any primary or additional diagnosis variable

The technical notes section of this report details inclusion criteria and definitions used throughout this report.

The sum of cases identified by the above two criteria constituted 184 ED records in 2021-22. We therefore do not describe ED data further in this report, as the under-recording or unavailability of external cause related information in the ED dataset and resultant small case counts render the data unreliable for injury surveillance (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Contact with Animals 2021-22 ED data inclusion flow diagram

Flowchart indicating that of over 8.5 million ED records in 2021-22, only 184 (less than 1%) were in scope for this report due to external cause of injury not being recorded in the majority of ED records, thereby not allowing injury presentations due to contact with animals to be ascertained.