Trauma Recidivism and Mortality Following Violent Injuries in Young Adults

J Surg Res. 2019 May;237:140-147. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2018.09.006.


Background: Trauma recidivism accounts for approximately 44% of emergency department admissions and remains a significant health burden with this patient cohort carrying higher rates of morbidity and mortality.

Methods: A level 1 trauma center registry was queried for patients aged 18-25 y presented between 2009 and 2015. Patients with nonaccidental gunshot wounds, stab wounds, or blunt assault-related injuries were categorized as violent injuries. Primary outcomes included mortality and recidivism, which were defined as patients with two unrelated traumas during the study period. Hospital records and the Social Security Death Index were used to aid in outcomes.

Results: A total of 6484 patients presented with 1215 (18.7%) sustaining violent injuries (87.4% male, median age 22.2 y). Mechanism of violent injuries included 64.4% gunshot wound, 21.1% stab, and 14.8% blunt assault. Compared with nonviolent injuries, violent injury patients had increased risk of mortality (9.3% versus 2.1%, P < 0.0001). Out-of-hospital mortality was 2.6% (versus 0.5% nonviolent, P < 0.0005), with an average time to death being 6.4 mo from initial injury. Recidivism was 24.9% with mean time to second violent injury at 31.9 ± 21.0 mo; 14.9% had two trauma readmissions, and 8.0% had ≥3. Ninety percent of subsequent injuries occurred within 5 y, with 19.1% in the first year.

Conclusions: The burden of injury after violent trauma extends past discharge as patients have significantly higher mortality rates following hospital release. Over one-quarter present with a second unrelated trauma or death. Improved medical, psychological, and social collaborative treatment of these high-risk patients is needed to interrupt the cycle of violent injury.

Keywords: Assault; Firearm-related injury; Gunshot wound; Homicide; Intentional injury; Penetrating trauma; Stab wound; Teenage; Violence; Young adult.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Cost of Illness
  • Crime Victims / psychology
  • Crime Victims / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Recurrence
  • Registries / statistics & numerical data
  • Social Support
  • Trauma Centers / statistics & numerical data
  • Wounds, Gunshot / mortality*
  • Wounds, Gunshot / prevention & control
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / mortality*
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / prevention & control
  • Wounds, Stab / mortality*
  • Wounds, Stab / prevention & control
  • Young Adult