Hospitalizations related to firearm use are on the rise in Pennsylvania, says the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. A new state report said there were 1,643 hospital stays for firearm-related injuries in 2003, the first increase since 2000. The total does not include emergency room treatment. An increase also occurred in firearm-related deaths, from 1,169 deaths in 2001 to 1,220 in 2003. From 2001 to 2003, firearms were linked to 4,777 hospitalizations and 3,588 deaths in the state. Some 70 percent of the victims were covered by medical assistance or had no health insurance. The report noted that the average annual total of hospital charges for firearm-related injuries was $127 million.
Eighty percent of hospital charges for gun injuries were linked to assault victims, who accounted for 68 percent of hospital stays. About 18 percent of hospital stays were linked to suicide attempts, 8 percent to accidents, and 5 percent were undetermined. A majority of deaths were suicides. They represented nearly 59 percent of deaths, compared to 38 percent from assaults and 2 percent from accidents.