8,300 Children and Teens Treated Each Year for Gun Injuries: Study

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Memorial to child killed by gun violence in Chicago, 2007. Photo by Señor Codo via Flickr

More than 8,300 children and teenagers are treated annually for gunshot wounds at emergency rooms around the U.S., according to an estimate by researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

This works out to an estimated $270 million a year in medical costs, said Fazal Gani, who led the research team at Johns Hopkins Surgery Center for Outcomes Research.

Gani said the team’s findings were based on data from a sample of 75,086 people younger than 18 who arrived alive at a hospital emergency room with a firearm-related injury. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics Today journal, found that for every 100,000 teens and children who arrived at emergency departments around the nation, 11 were there for a gun injury.

They based their estimate on an extrapolation of those numbers, and their estimate of $270 million in costs from the shootings was based on average emergency room and inpatient charges of $2,445 and $44,966 per visit, respectively.

In an interview published Tuesday by the Hub, the Johns Hopkins online platform, Gani called the figures the “tip of the iceberg.”

“Our study not only highlights the substantial clinical burden and loss of life associated with gunshot wounds, but…the large economic and financial consequences of these injuries to patients and their families, “ he said.

“Unfortunately, these numbers are likely the tip of the iceberg, as we were unable to account for subsequent costs for long-term therapy/rehabilitation or expenses associated with lost work for the parents.”

Roughly 86 percent of the young people in the study group were males with an average age of 15, the report said, and the most common reason for the injury was assault (49 percent) followed by unintentional injuries (38.7 percent).

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