The Epidemiology of Hand and Finger Lacerations in United States Emergency Departments

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



The Journal of emergency medicine




Emergency department; Emergency medicine; Epidemiology; Finger; Hand; Hand surgery; Injury; Laceration; Public health


BACKGROUND: Hand and finger lacerations presenting to U.S. emergency departments (EDs) are common, although the burden of these injuries is not well understood. OBJECTIVE: Our aim is to describe the epidemiology and causes of hand and finger lacerations in U.S. EDs. METHODS: This National Electronic Injury Surveillance System database review investigates hand and finger lacerations presenting to EDs in the United States from 2015 to 2019. RESULTS: Annually, hand and finger lacerations account for 243,844 and 587,451 ED visits, respectively. Affected patients are frequently White (70.5%), male (63.4%), and aged 18 through 44 years (46.3%). The top three products linked to hand and finger lacerations are knives (30.5%), metal containers (4.2%), and drinkware (3.8%), and men are less likely to have injuries from these products than women, especially knives (odds ratio 0.76; 95% confidence interval 0.60-0.96; p < 0.02). Although a minority of hand and finger lacerations involve alcohol (1.2%), men have greater rates of alcohol involvement than women (χ = 11.7; p < 0.001). Lacerations frequently occur in the home (61.3%). Many patients (44.2%) present to very large hospitals, and nearly one-half of patients younger than 5 years and one-third of patients aged 5 through 17 years present to pediatric hospitals. Most patients (97.4%) are treated and released without admission and 0.2% are transferred to another hospital. Patients with alcohol, drug, or medication involvement are more likely to leave against medical advice, be admitted, or held for observation (p < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Hand and finger lacerations result in a significant number of ED visits. A better understanding of injury trends and presentations can guide injury prevention in manufacturing, education, and public health.


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