This is a single-center cross-sectional study of consecutive patients who presented to an urban emergency department (ED) with firearm injuries between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2016. The objective of this study was to describe the characteristics of patients in this cohort and identify those at risk of firearm re-injury to inform future interventions. Patients in this cohort with both initial and recidivistic firearm injures were found to be predominately young, African American men.
Objective: To describe the characteristics of patients who present to the emergency department (ED) with firearm injuries and identify those at risk of firearm re-injury.
Methods: This is a single-center cross-sectional study of consecutive patients who presented to the ED with firearm injuries between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2016. We collected data on patient demographics, history of previous traumatic injury including firearm injury, and whether the firearm injury was self-inflicted. We also evaluated characteristics of patients in this cohort who returned to the ED with firearm re-injury within a one year follow-up period.
Results: This study included 1226 unique patients. Our data demonstrate that patients presenting to the ED for firearm injury were predominately young, African American males. Fourteen percent had a history of a previous firearm injury and 20% had a history of other non-firearm assault. Patients who had been shot previously were more likely to be African American, male, uninsured, unemployed, and have a history of other non-accidental trauma. Eight percent of firearm injuries were self-inflicted. All 35 patients who sustained a new firearm injury within 1 year of the index injury were African American males with a median age of 23.
Conclusions: Among patients treated in the ED for firearm injuries, young, African American males are disproportionately at risk of firearm injury and re-injury. ED visits for traumatic injury represent an opportunity to provide social work, case work, and counseling-based interventions to help disrupt the cycle of violence in high-risk individuals.