Trauma and the Veterinarian

  • Cogbill, Thomas H.;
  • Landercasper, Betty O.;
  • Landercasper, Jeffrey;
  • Strutt, Pamela J.


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 ays 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. Four per cent of veterinarians reduced their own fractures and dislocations, 20% sutured their own lacerations, and 67.5% self-administered antibiotics.

Reduction of animal-related injury may be possible through formal course work in graduate education, liberal use of tranquilizers, and increased utilization of mechanical devices for patient restraint.


JOURNAL: J Trauma. 1988; 28(8): 1255-1259.

Note: Journal of Trauma.

NLOM ID#: 88317046 .

Publication #: 88317046

This document was extracted from the CDC-NIOSH Epidemiology of Farm Related Injuries: Bibliography With Abstracts, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

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