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Albany Med Doctors, Victim of Violent Dog Attack Discuss Dog Bites

ALBANY, N.Y., July 12, 2013— Albany Medical Center physicians today offered advice for dog attack victims on treating wounds and options for reconstruction following injuries. 

In the past year more than 200 people have come to Albany Med’s emergency room to be treated for dog bites, according to Josh Pacheco, M.D., an emergency physician at Albany Med.

“While you can administer basic first aid for a dog bite at home, it's still very important to see a doctor especially if you were bitten by an unfamiliar dog or if the wounds are deep and will not stop bleeding,” said Dr. Pacheco. “The risk for infection is extremely high with dog bites. There could also be nerve, tendon or bone damage depending on the location of the wound that should be examined by a heath care professional.”
Ashit Patel, M.D., a plastic surgeon who has treated hundreds of dog bite victims, said, “Dog bites especially on the face or hands pose particular challenges, however it is usually possible to restore function and appearance, minimizing the effects of scarring.”
Appearing with Eleonora Shkaf of East Greenbush, a victim of a recent dog attack that required significant reconstructive surgery, Albany Med physicians offered the following advice:

To care for a dog bite injury at home:

• Place a clean towel or cloth over the injury to stop bleeding
• Try to keep the injured area elevated
• Wash the bite carefully but thoroughly with soap and water
• Apply a sterile bandage to the wound
• Apply antibiotic ointment to the injury daily to prevent infection
When you visit the doctor, be prepared to answer a few questions, including:
• Do you know the owner of the dog?
• If so, is the dog up-to-date on all vaccinations, most importantly rabies?
• What health conditions do you have? People with diabetes, liver disease, illnesses that suppress the immune system and other health conditions may be at greater risk for a more severe infection.

Your doctor will examine the injury to see whether the bite was deep enough to damage muscles, tendons, nerves or bones. Then the doctor will thoroughly clean the bite wound to remove any dirt or bacteria, and may also remove dead tissues from the wound. An antibiotic or anti-inflammatory may also be prescribed.

Dr. Patel says there are considerations for reconstructive surgery:

• All deep penetrating injuries and lacerations of the nose, face, lips or ears should be treated by a plastic surgeon.
• Bite wounds with significant tissue loss should be considered for reconstruction to achieve maximal function and optimize aesthetic result.
• Depending on the severity of the bite, multiple surgeries may be required.
• Victims should expect some scarring, even with today’s state of the art reconstructive techniques.
• Not all treatments are covered by insurance.


Albany Medical Center, northeastern New York’s only academic health sciences center, is one of the largest private employers in the Capital Region. It incorporates the 651-bed Albany Medical Center Hospital, which offers the widest range of medical and surgical services in the region, and the Albany Medical College, which trains the next generation of doctors, scientists and other healthcare professionals, and also includes a biomedical research enterprise and the region’s largest physicians practice with nearly 400 doctors. Albany Medical Center works with dozens of community partners to improve the region’s health and quality of life. For more information: www.amc.edu or www.facebook.com/albanymedicalcenter.


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*Questions & Comments:

Sue Ford
Extension: (518) 262 - 3421
  fords@mail.amc.edu



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