Is the prevalence of deliberate penetrating trauma increasing in London? Experiences of an urban pre-hospital trauma service

Injury. 2009 May;40(5):560-3. doi: 10.1016/j.injury.2008.10.008. Epub 2009 Feb 20.


Background: Recent media interest in stabbings and shootings has lead to the general assumption that injury and death secondary to deliberate penetrating trauma are rising. The aim of this study was to establish the prevalence of deliberate penetrating trauma within a London-based physician-led pre-hospital trauma service, and evaluate whether the perceived increase reported by the media translates into a real increase in penetrating trauma caseload.

Method: A retrospective review of a physician-led pre-hospital care trauma database was conducted to identify all patients who sustained stabbing or shooting injuries over a 16-year period. Patients who died in the pre-hospital phase and paediatric patients were included. Other local and national datasets were examined to determine whether similar trends were observed.

Results: 1564 penetrating trauma victims were identified, including 92 children. 1358 patients (86.8%) sustained stab wounds; 206 patients were shot (13.2%). Penetrating injury accounted for 9.9% of the overall trauma caseload during the study period. The annual increase in patients sustaining stabbing injuries was 23.2%. Gun shot wounds increased by 11.0% per year.

Conclusion: The study demonstrates a significant annual rise in the number of cases of deliberate penetrating trauma managed by a UK physician-led pre-hospital trauma service.

MeSH terms

  • Crime / trends*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Emergency Medical Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • London / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Mass Media
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Wounds, Penetrating / epidemiology*
  • Wounds, Penetrating / mortality
  • Wounds, Penetrating / therapy