Penetrating Trauma in Baltimore: An Analysis of the Effect of a Rise in Localized Violence by Age Group

J Surg Res. 2021 Jun:262:38-46. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2020.11.083. Epub 2021 Feb 3.


Background: Incidence of firearm mortality in the United States is increasing. Baltimore, MD saw a substantial increase in violence in April 2015. We analyzed the effect of this localized surge in violence on the pediatric population.

Methods: Using the Maryland Health Services Cost Review Commission database, initial hospital encounters for gunshot wound (GSW) or stab wound (SW) were identified. Baltimore Police Department victim-based crime data and homicide data on GSW and SW assault were used to capture those not seen at hospitals. Changes in incidence rate ratios from before/after April 2015 were analyzed using Poisson regression.

Results: No change in mortality was seen in hospital-evaluated GSW patients. The pediatric population showed decreased incidence of SW (P < 0.001) and increase in GSW (P < 0.001) but no change in total penetrating trauma (tPT). The young adult population had decreased SW incidence (P < 0.001) without change in GSW or tPT. The pediatric populations saw no difference in SW/GSW deaths or homicide rate. However, in young adults, there were increased homicides (P < 0.001) and GSW deaths (P < 0.001) with unchanged SW deaths.

Conclusions: After a surge in violence, the shifted mechanism of penetrating trauma in the pediatric population did not increase mortality or tPT. By contrast, GSW incidence is increasing in young adults with more lethal injuries. Intervention could be aimed at gun control and targeted education/intervention in the at-risk younger age group.

Keywords: Firearm; Gunshot wound; Homicide; Pediatric trauma; Penetrating trauma; Stab wound.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Baltimore / epidemiology
  • Databases, Factual
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Wounds, Gunshot / epidemiology*
  • Wounds, Stab / epidemiology*
  • Young Adult