In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital (UH Rainbow) found injuries related to legal interventions, or contact with law enforcement, involving male teenagers is not an uncommon occurrence in the United States.
The study analyzed the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample (NEDS) between January 2008 and December 2010 and found 15,613 emergency department (ED) visits were attributed to injuries due to legal interventions involving children. Most visits occurred among males (82.8 percent) and teens between 15 to 17 years of age (83 percent). A blow or manhandling (terms used to classify legal interventions which do not involve a weapon) were the most common types of legal intervention (76.4 percent). Close to 68.5 percent of all ED visits occurred in areas with low annual income household levels.
"This study evaluated the number of minors who visited an emergency department over a two year period for injuries resulting from contact with law enforcement and demonstrates this issue comes with significant financial, if not human, cost," says Alexandre Rotta, MD, FCCM, Chief, Division of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine at UH Rainbow and the study's senior investigator.
Dr. Rotta, who is also Professor of Pediatrics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, says the issue has a significant cost associated with ED visits and hospital admissions. Total ED charges across the United States were $16.3 million and the mean ED charge (adjusted to year 2010 value) was $1,416. About two percent of children were admitted as inpatients, and the mean hospitalization charge was $65,312. The total hospitalization charges across the country were $21.3 million.
The study, titled "Epidemiology of Hospital Based Emergency Department Visits Attributed to Injuries Due to Legal Interventions in Children in the United States: An Important Public Health Issue!" will be presented during the 2015 American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference & Exhibition on Oct. 25, at 10:45 a.m. during the Council on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention program.
"The intent of presenting this data is not to pass judgement on the admirable and difficult work of our nations' law enforcement officers," says Dr. Rotta. "We hope the study sparks conversation of what can be an uncomfortable topic and is an initial step towards addressing this important public health issue."
Materials provided by University Hospitals Case Medical Center. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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