Shark Related Injuries: A Case Series of Emergency Department Patients

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Abstract

Introduction

Shark-related-injuries (SRIs) are not thoroughly evaluated in the medical literature given their rare occurrence. Previous studies involve the utilization of large-independent databases and have demonstrated that shark attacks appear to be increasing, even though mortality of SRIs has decreased from 51% in 1958 to 8.3% in 2001.

Methods

We performed a retrospective chart review on patients presenting to 10 emergency departments (ED) in southeastern Virginia from February 22, 2008 through December 31, 2016. We used a free-text search feature to identify patients documented to have the word “shark” in the record. We reported descriptive statistics for patient demographics, disposition, mortality, time of injury, body injury location, activity during injury, injury severity score (ISS), antibiotic use, and if the patient was in the International Shark Attack File(ISAF) or the Global Shark Attack File(GSAF).

Results

We identified 11 patients. Most patients were male (81.8%) and Caucasian (90.9%) with a mean age of 35 years old (SD = 13.4, range17–55). Most patients (72.7%) arrived to the ED by private vehicle. Seventy-eight percent of patients were safely discharged from the ED. There were no deaths. There was a bimodal distribution of the time of injury around noon and early evening. Only 1 of our patients was present in the GSAF and 4 were present in the ISAF.

Conclusion

Most SRIs can be safely evaluated, treated, and discharged from the ED. Utilization of large databases for shark related research may underestimate its prevalence in the US. Further research is needed into the care of SRIs in the ED.

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