Police-Related Injuries Account for Roughly 50,000 ER Visits Annually

Substance abuse and mental illness were common among those that were injured, researchers say.
Substance abuse and mental illness were common among those that were injured, researchers say.

HealthDay News -- According to a study published in JAMA Surgery, more than 50,000 Americans are treated each year for injuries inflicted by police.

Nationwide, there were 355,677 emergency department visits for injuries caused by police between 2006 and 2012, according to researchers from New York-Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City. The number of injured each year -- about 51,000 -- remained stable over the seven-year period.

Analyzing data from the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample, the researchers also found the following: More than 8 out of 10 patients were men. Patients' average age was 32, most lived in low-income areas, and 81% lived in cities. 

Injuries caused by police were more common in the South and West and less common in the Northeast and Midwest. Most of the police-caused injuries resulted from being struck. Gunshot and stab wounds accounted for less than 7% of the injuries. 

Most of the injuries were minor. Substance abuse and mental illness were common in patients injured by police. Of the emergency department visits identified in the study, 0.3% (1202) ended in death.

"While it is impossible to classify how many of these injuries are avoidable, these data can serve as a baseline to evaluate the outcomes of national and regional efforts to reduce law enforcement-related injury," the authors write.

Reference

Kaufman EJ, Karp DN, Delgado MK. "US Emergency Department Encounters for Law Enforcement–Associated Injury, 2006-2012." JAMA Surg. 2017. doi:10.1001/ jamasurg.2017.0574 [Epub ahead of print]

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