Emergency Department Visits for Pediatric Firearm Injuries by Trauma Center Type

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Emergency Department Visits for Pediatric Firearm Injuries by Trauma Center Type

Category: Homicide, Injury, Suicide, Unintentional, Youth|Journal: Pediatric Emergency Care|Author: A Kharbanda, A Linabery, A Spaulding, A Zagel, G Cutler|Year: 2021


This study aimed to characterize pediatric visits to emergency departments (EDs) for firearm injuries and examine differences by trauma center type.



Analyses included all patients younger than 19 years from the National Trauma Data Bank, years 2009 to 2014. Trauma centers were categorized as adult, mixed adult and pediatric, or pediatric based on certification level. Baseline characteristics were compared between subgroups using χ2 tests. Multivariable logistic regression was used to examine risk of death.



Of 466,403 pediatric ED visits, 21,416 (4.6%) resulted from a firearm injury. Most firearm injuries were treated at an adult (64.9%) or mixed trauma center (29.1%) and involved patients that were male (87.1%), in the 15- to 18-year age group (83.2%), and black or African American (61.3%). Most visits were for injuries resulting from assault (78.1%), followed by unintentional (12.6%) and self-inflicted (4.7%) injuries, undetermined intent (3.7%), and legal intervention (0.8%). Patients visiting EDs for firearm injuries had more than 7 times the odds of dying compared with patients with other injuries (odds ratio, 7.30; 95% confidence interval, 6.82–7.72), and firearm injuries were responsible for more than a quarter (26.1%) of the total pediatric deaths in the National Trauma Data Bank (n = 2866). Assault-related injuries resulted in the most deaths (n = 2010; 70.1%), but the case fatality rate was highest for self-inflicted (n = 453; 44.6%).



We identified more than 20,000 firearm-related ED visits by pediatric patients from 2009 to 2014, averaging nearly 10 visits per day. Findings from this study can inform strategic planning in hospitals focused on preventing firearm injuries in children and adolescents.