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Research Letter
April 19, 2017

US Emergency Department Encounters for Law Enforcement–Associated Injury, 2006-2012

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Surgery, New York–Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, New York
  • 2Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
  • 3Departments of Emergency Medicine and Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
JAMA Surg. Published online April 19, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2017.0574

Deaths of civilians in contact with police have recently gained national public and policy attention. While journalists track police-involved deaths,1 epidemiologic data are incomplete,2,3 and trends in nonfatal injuries, which far outnumber deaths, are poorly understood. The International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification, includes external cause-of-injury codes identifying injuries owing to contact with law enforcement (E970-E978). Using these codes, prior studies have identified 715 118 nonfatal injuries, 3958 hospitalizations, and 3156 deaths between 2003 and 2011 from US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data and the Nationwide Inpatient Sample,4 and 55 400 fatal and nonfatal injuries in 2012 from the Vital Statistics mortality census, Nationwide Inpatient and Emergency Department Samples, and journalists’ reports.5 In this study, we used a nationally representative database to determine whether the incidence of emergency department (ED) visits for injures by law enforcement increased relative to total ED visits from 2006 to 2012. We assessed demographic and clinical characteristics of visits for law enforcement–associated injury.

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