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J Trauma. 1988 Aug;28(8):1255-9.

Trauma and the veterinarian.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Gundersen Clinic/La Crosse Lutheran Hospital, WI 54601.


A survey of all American Veterinary Medical Association members in Minnesota and Wisconsin was conducted by questionnaire to document injuries resulting from animal treatment. Of 995 respondents, 64.6% had sustained a major animal-related injury. Seventeen per cent were hospitalized within the last year. Of those hospitalized, 25.3% required a surgical procedure. Hand injuries were most common in a veterinarian's career (52.6% of respondents), followed by trauma to the arms (27.6%), and the head (20.8%). The thorax (8.3%), genitalia (3.9%), and intra-abdominal viscera (2.8%) were injured less often. Operative procedures were frequently required to treat veterinarian injury from animal patients. Thirty-five per cent of veterinarians required treatment for suture of lacerations, 10% for reduction of fracture/dislocation, and 5% for dental work in their career. One craniotomy and one carotid artery repair were necessary. Mechanism of injury was animal kick (35.5%), bite (34%), crush (11.7%), scratch (3.8%), and other interesting causes (14.9%). These included the patient pushing, goring, head butting, running over, and falling on the veterinarian. Additional work-related hazards included zoonotic disease, autoinoculation of live brucella vaccine, and self-inflicted scalpel injuries from sudden patient movement. The most common animals involved were bovine (46.5%), canine (24.2%), and equine (15.2%). Lost days from work secondary to animal injury averaged 1.3 days (range, 0-180 days) in 1986 and 8.5 days (range, 0-365 days) during the veterinarian's career. Job related automobile accidents also occurred. Veterinarians averaged more than 300 miles driven per week, and only 56% reported following the speed limit. Fifteen per cent did not wear seat belts. Self-treatment of injuries was common.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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