Ever wondered precisely how many people in American per year are attacked by macaws? Sat on by horses? Walked into furniture and had to go to hospital? Fear not; your bizarre curiosity has been answered. A company named Amino that works on healthcare transparency in the United States has put together the many, many strange ways in which Americans injured themselves in 2016, and has released them to the general public for our delight. And some of them are so bizarre they'll make you feel immediately better about the time you kicked yourself in the face.
The source of the numbers, explains Amino, is from insurance claims. "This data is an analysis of a subset of ICD-10 codes in Amino's database of 9 billion insurance claims representing more than 220 million Americans," Amino's data scientist Sohan Murthy tells Bustle via email. "ICD-10, which stands for the International Classification of Diseases, is a medical classification list developed by the World Health Organization that doctors use to record their diagnoses of patients."
Basically, if you turn up in a hospital or surgery, whatever has happened to you will have an ICD-10 number — and scientists and analysts use them to track illnesses and problems across vast populations. Including, in this case, the many daft ways in which we get injured.
The project was inspired, Murthy tells Bustle, by Amino's health team's curiosity as to whether anybody in the United States had made an insurance claim for an ICD-10 code about strikes from an orca in the past 12 months. The answer: unfortunately, no. However, other animals feature strongly in the data set. Rounded to the nearest hundred, 162,000 Americans were bitten by dogs, 3500 were hit by a horse in some capacity, and 900 were bitten by squirrels. 300, meanwhile, made the obscure complaint of "other contact with fish," which means that the fish didn't bite or hit them (perhaps it dragged them into the lake?), while another 300 had the misfortune of being bitten by pigs.
The favorite injuries of the Amino team are the kind that would require a lot of explanation in the emergency room. While 17,200 patients simply walked into walls, 10,600 of them were "accidentally bitten" by another person, 600 had some sort of negative experience with a "sword or dagger", a full 400 walked into lampposts, and 200 were "struck by a chicken."
The analysts also tell Bustle that certain injuries appear more along gendered lines. The most popular injuries seen by women, they noted, are "volleyball and softball injuries, ring/jewelry issues, and bites by cats and horses." However, they did urge caution when looking at the statistics on their gendered spreadsheet. "Keep in mind that we naturally see more women in our database, given they tend to be higher utilizers of healthcare than men."
Beyond just excellent anecdotes, these patterns of injury and accident are actually extremely useful for studies of human behavior. One example demonstrates the point: You can track how many people are playing certain sports at different times of year by looking at the amount of people showing up to emergency rooms with ball-strike injuries. It's also a good way to track trends and skill levels across the population, making it deeply valuable information for advertisers and businesses. If the number of people falling spectacularly from their roofs while attempting DIY tiling spikes, for instance, home improvement stores will want to know — and possibly put safety ladders on sale.
Still, this data isn't completely accurate, because it relies on people actually going to hospital and then consulting their insurance providers. So there's still the possibility that somebody in the United States has, in fact, been struck by an orca in the past 12 months, and just didn't bother to get medical help for the resulting concussion. So if you're disappointed by the lack of listed injuries by flying gerbils, rest assured that they may still have happened.