Epidemiologic changes in gunshot wounds in Washington, DC, 1983-1990

Arch Surg. 1992 Jun;127(6):694-8. doi: 10.1001/archsurg.1992.01420060066010.


The purpose of this study was to examine temporal patterns in gunshot wound admission rates and wound profiles from 1983 through 1990 at a level I trauma center in Washington, DC. Data on trauma admissions were collected at the time of admission. Records were reviewed to identify patients admitted for gunshot wounds from assaults. Data on the number and location of entrance gunshot wounds, survival, complications, length of stay in the intensive care unit, and total inpatient days were recorded. Admissions due to gunshot wounds grew at an exponential rate beginning in 1987 and reached a level from 1989 through 1990 three times higher than the preepidemic rate. The mean number of entrance gunshot wounds per patient grew from 1.44 before the epidemic to 2.04 from 1988 through 1990. Multiple thoracic wounds became relatively more common from 1988 through 1990. This increase was partially responsible for reversing a downward trend in patient mortality. Temporal changes in admission rates and wound profiles were consistent with the city's epidemic of drug-related violence and with a shift in weaponry toward high-capacity, semiautomatic handguns.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • District of Columbia / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Wounds, Gunshot / epidemiology*
  • Wounds, Gunshot / mortality
  • Wounds, Gunshot / pathology