Doctors aren't any better at treating gunshots than they were 15 years ago, and it suggests firearm injuries are getting worse

Getty ImagesAmong 1,335,044 patients treated, self-inflicted firearm injury had a case-fatality percentage of 42.8%, and assault with a firearm had a case-fatality percentage of 11.1.
  • A new report from JAMA Surgery analysed data from more than 1 million patients treated at trauma centres throughout the US for both firearm injuries and motor vehicle crashes.
  • The researchers found that, while fatalities from motor vehicle crashes decreased over a 10-year span, deaths from firearm injuries remained the same.
  • Lead author Dr. Robert Tessler says this suggests gun-related injuries are getting more severe.

A new paper has found fatalities from firearms have not decreased over time, and it reveals a disturbing trend about gun violence.

The paper, published Thursday in JAMA Surgery, analysed more than 1 million patient files for both firearm injuries and motor vehicle crashes between 2003 and 2013. Researchers looked at the severity of injuries, as well as in- and out-of-hospital deaths, for both incidents. They found that, while there was 0.17% decline in the number of car accident deaths, the number of gunshot victims who died stayed more or less the same.

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Although there are a number of factors that can contribute to a person’s survival rate after a crash or gunshot, including location of the injury and depth of wounds, researchers concluded that the stagnant survival rate of gunshot victims could be attributed to “a worsening of firearm injury severity over time.”

Domestic violence and guns   texas shootingScott Olson / GettyLaw enforcement officials stand outside the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs.

The study doesn’t examine why there hasn’t been a decline in firearm-related deaths. It does, however, offer a possible solution (Or at the very least, a step in that direction). According to the researchers, incorporating studies of firearm ballistics into longitudinal public health and trauma surgery research will give medical professionals more insight into firearm lethality.

Additionally, adding details on “firearm type, ammunition used, shots fired, and number of wounds can provide a more complete picture of firearm injury severity over time,” which can help doctors better protect patients in the future.

Read more:
Doctors and nurses respond with stories of gun trauma after the NRA told them to ‘stay in their lane’

These steps are in line with the American College of Physicians’ recent position paper on how to reduce gun injuries in the US. The paper, which prompted NRA members to tell doctors to “stay in their lane,” called for more data-driven research. It also argued for more freedom for doctors to discuss the risks associated with owning a firearm, as well as appropriate handling of said firearms.


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