Are Self-Inflicted Stab Wounds Less Severe Than Assaults? Analysis of Injury and Severity by Intent

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Journal of Surgical Research



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© 2020 Elsevier Inc. Background: Although there is evidence that self-inflicted abdominal stab wounds are less severe than those from assault, it is unclear if this is true in other anatomic regions. This study compares severity and injury pattern between self-inflicted stab wounds (SISWs) and wounds from assault (ASW). Materials and Methods: Stab wounds from our level I trauma registry from 2013 to 2018 were reviewed. Data included age, gender, self-inflicted versus assault, psychiatric or substance use history, anatomic location, operative intervention, injury severity, length of stay, and outcomes. Results: Over the study period, 1390 patients were identified. History of psychiatric diagnoses or previous suicide attempts was more frequent in SISWs (47% versus 6.5%, P < 0.01; 35% versus 0.4%, P < 0.01). SISWs had a higher incidence of wounds to the neck and abdomen (44% versus 11%, P < 0.01; and 34% versus 26%, P = 0.02). Overall, injuries from ASW had a higher injury severity score, but more procedures were performed on SISWs (46% versus 34%, P < 0.01). SISWs to the neck were more likely to undergo procedures (26% versus 15%, P = 0.04). Median hospital charges were higher in patients with SISWs ($58.6 K versus $39.4 K, P < 0.01). Conclusions: SISWs have a distinct pattern of injuries, more commonly to the neck and abdomen, when compared with injuries resulting from ASW. The patients with SISWs have a higher rate of procedures, longer length of stay, and higher hospital charges despite low injury severity overall.


Knife wound; Self-harm; Self-inflicted injury; Stab wound


Surgery | Trauma



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