Characterization of pediatric golf cart injuries to guide injury prevention efforts

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Abstract

Background

Golf cart injuries represent an increasing source of morbidity and mortality in the United States. Characterization of the circumstances of these injuries can inform injury prevention efforts.

Methods

This study retrospectively reviews a prospective trauma registry at a level-one pediatric trauma center for golf cart-related injuries in patients under 18 years of age admitted to the hospital between 2008 and 2016.

Results

The 40 identified crashes were associated with 82 hospital days, 17 ICU days, and more than $1 million in hospital charges over the study period. The median hospital stay was 1.5 days, and the median hospital charge was $20,489. Severe injuries with an Injury Severity Score of >15 were identified in 25% of patients, and moderate injuries with scores between nine and 15 were identified in an additional 30%. The most common injures were head and neck (60%) and external injuries to the body surface (52.5%). Only a single child was wearing a seatbelt, and the vast majority was not using any safety equipment. Children as young as nine years old were driving golf carts, and child drivers were associated with the cart overturning (p = 0.007).

Conclusions

Golf cart crashes were a source of substantial morbidity at a level-one trauma center. Increased safety measures, such as higher hip restraints, seatbelts, and front-wheel breaks could substantially increase the safety of golf carts. Increased regulation of driving age as well as driver education may also reduce these injuries.

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