Background: Transportation in the United States continues to evolve. Recently, tens of thousands of dockless scooter share electric scooters (e-scooters) have appeared on the sidewalks and streets of over 70 US cities. Providers in Salt Lake City emergency departments (EDs) have anecdotally noted a significant number of e-scooter-related injuries since the launch of e-scooters in the downtown area in June 2018. The aim of this study was to quantify and characterize these injuries.
Methods: We reviewed the electronic medical records of the University of Utah ED and the Salt Lake Regional Medical Center ED, two EDs which primarily serve the downtown Salt Lake City population. Using a broad keyword search for “scooter,” we examined all notes related to ED visits between June 15-November 15, 2017, and June 15-November 15, 2018. The 2017 data pre-dated the launch of the e-scooter share programs in Salt Lake City and served as a control period. For ED visits that represented injuries related to e-scooters, we noted patient characteristics, injury details, and patient outcomes.
Results: The 5-month 2017 control period had 8 ED visits related to e-scooter trauma, while the 5-month 2018 study period had 50 ED visits related to e-scooter trauma. This represented a 625% increase in e-scooter injuries in the two EDs. We categorized injuries into the following groups: superficial soft tissue injury (20 patients, 40%), minor musculoskeletal injury (17 patients, 34%), major musculoskeletal injury (18 patients, 36%), minor head injury (6 patients, 12%), and major head injury (4 patients, 8%). 14 patients (28%) presented with multiple types of injuries. 8 patients (16%) required hospital admission and 7 (14%) had an injury requiring operative repair. 8 patients (16%) reported alcohol intoxication and no patients reported wearing a helmet at the time of the injury.
Conclusion: Since the launch of e-scooter share programs in Salt Lake City, we have seen a substantial increase in e-scooter related trauma in our EDs. Of particular note is the large number of patients with major musculoskeletal and major head injuries. Cities with e-scooter share programs may wish to implement and enhance e-scooter injury prevention programs to reduce injuries associated with this growing transportation mode.