Non-fatal firearm injuries account for about 70 percent of all firearm trauma injuries in the United States, but the patterns of the severity of these injuries have been poorly understood.
Now, a new study led by a Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researcher, published in BMJ Trauma Surgery & Acute Care Open, has found an annual increase in severity of non-fatal firearm injuries needing hospital admission across the United States since the early 1990s.
This increase “reflects a move towards hospitalization of more serious injuries, and outpatient management of less serious injuries across the board, suggesting a mounting burden on the U.S. healthcare system,” says lead author Dr. Bindu Kalesan, assistant professor of community health sciences and assistant professor of medicine at the School of Medicine.
Using nationwide hospital data, the researchers analyzed inpatient admissions for firearm injuries from 1993 to 2014.
Of 648,662 admissions, around 88 percent were male and 12 percent were female; 5.6 percent were among children, 82 percent were among young adults (16 – 45 years), and 12 percent were among older adults (46 years and older). The majority were of assaultive intent (389,506, 60 percent), followed by unintentional (157,225, 24 percent), intentional self-harm (55,601, 9 percent) ,and undetermined (46,330, 7 percent).
The study also found that, between 1998 and 2014, injuries among children showed a temporal increase in the trend compared to a consistent increase among adults. This indicates a potential for prolonged disability and loss of productivity in young people. The authors also suggested that the trend of increasing severity of hospitalized firearm injuries will lead to an increase in the healthcare system expenses.