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J R Soc Med. 1990 February; 83(2): 75–78.
PMCID: PMC1292500

Pattern, severity and aetiology of injuries in victims of assault.


Although the incidence of assault and other violent crime is increasing in the UK, the cause and overall pattern of injury, and the need for admission have not been defined in adult victims who attend hospital. In a prospective study, all 539 adult victims of assault attending a major city centre Accident & Emergency department in 1986 were therefore interviewed and examined. Facial injury was extremely common: 83% of all fractures, 66% of all lacerations and 53% of all haematomas were facial. The upper limb was the next most common site of injury (14% of all injuries). Twenty-six per cent of victims sustained at least one fracture and nasal fractures were the most frequently observed skeletal injuries (27%) followed by zygomatic fractures (22%) and mandibular body (12%), angle (12%) and condyle (9%) fractures. Seventeen per cent of victims required hospital admission. Overall, the type of injury observed correlated with the alleged weapon used (P = less than 0.001) though 20% of victims who reported attacks with sharp weapons sustained only haematomas or fractures. Injury most often resulted from punching (72% of assaults) or kicking (42% of assaults). Only 6% of victims reported injury with knives but 11% were injured by broken drinking glasses. Those who were kicked were most likely to need hospital admission.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Shepherd JP, Pierce NX, Scully C, Leslie IJ. Rates of violent crime from hospital records. Lancet. 1987 Dec 19;2(8573):1470–1471. [PubMed]
  • Haidar Z. Fractures of the zygomatic complex in the south-east region of Scotland. Br J Oral Surg. 1978 Mar;15(3):265–267. [PubMed]
  • Hill CM, Crosher RF, Carroll MJ, Mason DA. Facial fractures--the results of a prospective four-year-study. J Maxillofac Surg. 1984 Dec;12(6):267–270. [PubMed]
  • Gayford JJ. Wife battering: a preliminary survey of 100 cases. Br Med J. 1975 Jan 25;1(5951):194–197. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Yates DW, Hadfield JM, Peters K. Alcohol consumption of patients attending two accident and emergency departments in north-west England. J R Soc Med. 1987 Aug;80(8):486–489. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Shepherd JP, Al-Kotany MY, Subadan C, Scully C. Assault and facial soft tissue injuries. Br J Plast Surg. 1987 Nov;40(6):614–619. [PubMed]
  • Shepherd J, Irish M, Scully C, Leslie I. Alcohol intoxication and severity of injury in victims of assault. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1988 May 7;296(6632):1299–1299. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

Articles from Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine are provided here courtesy of Royal Society of Medicine Press