Identifying individuals at highest risk maximizes efficacy of prevention programs in decreasing recidivist gunshot wound (GSW) injury. Characteristics of GSW recidivists may identify this population. Hospital-based violence intervention programs (HVIPs) are one effective strategy; however, programs are expensive, therefore, when possible, epidemiologic data should guide inclusion criteria.
Seventeen years of all GSW patients presenting to an urban Level I trauma center were reviewed. Countywide murders were reviewed from the same timeframe. Recidivists were any patient presenting twice, either to the hospital or once to the hospital and subsequently dying by firearm. Demographics and characteristics of future recidivists were compared with nonfuture recidivists.
There were 9,699 unique intentional, GSW cases reviewed and 1,426 died, leaving 8,273 at risk of recidivism. Five hundred fourteen (6.2%) became recidivists. Most recidivists were African-American men and were younger at first GSW. Median time between incidents was 2.5 years, with a range of 0 days to 16 years. Nearly half were treated and released from the emergency department at their first episode of GSW. For recidivists who died, 128 died at the second incident, 29 at later incidents. Mortality from a second incident of firearm injury is 10% higher than first injuries, second hospitalizations are US $5,000 more expensive, and loss of life has a societal cost of US $167 billion in this community alone.
The most appropriate population for inclusion in HVIPs at our hospital are young black men. The HVIP services are needed in the emergency department to address those treated and released at first GSW. Recidivists have higher mortality, and hospitalizations are significantly more expensive at the second injury. The investment in prevention is justified and may lead to a decrease in recidivism.
Level of Evidence
Therapeutic/Care Management level III.