Background: Quad bikes are a prominent cause of morbidity and mortality in Australia in both agriculture and recreation. This study describes the clinical and epidemiological characteristics of quad bike injuries at the Royal Darwin Hospital (RDH).
Methods: A retrospective review of the RDH Trauma Registry for all quad bike mechanism of injury from 1 January 2006 to 31 December 2015 was conducted. We analysed patient demographics, remoteness of injury, injury circumstances, patterns and severity of injury, surgical intervention, length of stay and outcome.
Results: In total, 186 persons were injured, of whom 81% (n = 150) were male. There was an increase in quad bike incidents during the 10-year study period, and the greatest increase was seen in the 16–30 years age group. When helmet use was recorded, it was low at 36% (n = 47). Alcohol involvement was 40% (n = 74). Cases with alcohol involvement were 10 times less likely to have worn a helmet than those cases without alcohol involvement (95% confidence interval 3.8–29). The median Injury Severity Score was 8 (interquartile range 4–10). The median hospital length of hospital stay was 4 days (interquartile range 3–7). The majority, 57% (n = 106), did not require surgical intervention. The fatality rate was <5%.
Conclusion: Quad bike incidents presenting to RDH are increasing. This likely corresponds to the increased number of quad bikes in circulation, and has resulted in an increased demand on health care. Alcohol use and a lack of safety equipment continue to be potentially correctable factors.