New research presented today at APHA’s 2017 Annual Meeting and Expo revealed that the severity of firearm injuries has increased over the past 20 years, among those hospitalized for their injuries. Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine noted that their findings have broad implications for public health beyond increased suffering on the individual level.
The study used hospitalization data from 44 states between 1993 and 2013 to measure trends in firearm injury. Data showed firearm injury severity increased each year, and was driven by a large increase in serious open fractures and a decline in minor injuries.
Researchers found that young adults showed a particularly large increase in serious open injuries. They also saw a large decline in minor firearm injuries in this age group. The study concluded that young adults, in particular, bear a greater burden of increasingly severe gunshot wounds.
Data from this study also showed that this trend is true for both injuries from firearm assault and from unintentional injury. Both categories of firearm injury showed a decreasing number of minor injuries and an increasing number of serious open fractures. The study also showed that injuries from suicide attempts with a firearm increased in severity.
“The combination of increasing severity of gun injuries and better medical care that results in more gun injury survivors indicates a growing burden on the health care system. The acute medical care that allows people with gun injuries to survive does not mean that they have completely recovered,” said Yi Zuo, MPH, study author and statistical data analyst at the Center for Clinical Translational Epidemiology and Comparative Effectiveness Research at Boston University School of Medicine.
“The majority of patients with gun injuries will live compromised lives with repeated emergency and hospitalization visits, psychological problems and social challenges. Simply put, our study demonstrates not only the additional public health burden due to non-fatal gun injuries, but also the direct burden of continued and multiple challenges to the individual.”