Gunshot wounds. Incidence, cost, and concepts of prevention

Clin Orthop Relat Res. 1987 Sep:(222):114-21.


The United States has the highest incidence of firearm-related deaths among the Western industrialized nations. Firearms are the second leading cause of injury death. In 1982, the National Center for Health Statistics showed that firearms killed more than 33,000 individuals: 1,756 unintentionally, 16,573 by suicide, 13,841 by homicide, 376 by legal action, and 540 of undetermined intent. In terms of the total number of years of life lost, trauma in general contributed more years than heart disease and cancer combined for the year 1975. The southern regions of the United States tend to have higher firearm-related death rates than other regions of the country. Data collected within Arkansas are consistent with this trend. Handguns are the most frequently used firearms in fatal injuries. Unfortunately, data on nonfatal injuries are lacking. The emotional and economic costs of firearm-related death and injury are staggering. The estimated daily cost of hospitalization is $2100, and the average length of hospitalization is 10 days. The emotional impact of a gun-related injury or death will be felt immediately by 950,000 people per year. The economic loss resulting from "premature" deaths due to firearms is estimated to be nearly $4 billion annually. Unfortunately, the firearm is so ingrained in the American experience that one must conclude gunshot injuries and fatalities are simply part of the cost of living in America today.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • United States
  • Wounds, Gunshot / economics
  • Wounds, Gunshot / epidemiology*
  • Wounds, Gunshot / prevention & control