Study: Many EDs miss opportunity to help prevent repeat firearm injuries

An action shot of emergency department staff rolling a patient on a gurney
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Nearly half a million firearm injuries were treated in emergency departments (EDs) nationwide between 2009 and 2014. Yet few victims are provided information on how to prevent repeat injuries, which are common, says a Yale researcher in a new study.

There are more than two dozen hospital-based violence intervention programs designed to prevent recurrence of firearm injuries. To assess the opportunities to deliver the programs to those injured by firearms, a research team led by Edouard Coupet, Jr., M.D., embarked on a study of firearm injuries in EDs, examining both injury type and treatment setting.

The researchers found that while the majority — 70% — of firearm injuries were treated in centers specializing in major trauma, nearly one-third were treated in non-trauma centers. They also learned that half of these injuries were intentional, due to assault, but more than one-third were unintentional.

With fewer than 10% of trauma centers offering violence prevention programs, many EDs are missing opportunities to help victims prevent recurrent injuries, the researchers said. Intervention programs include counseling, safe storage education, addiction treatment, and social services, among other strategies.

The implications are that we should expand those prevention programs to non-trauma centers and unintentional firearm injuries as well,” noted Coupet, assistant professor of emergency medicine at Yale School of Medicine, who was a Master of Science in Health Policy Research candidate at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, at the time of the study. 

Read the full paper, co-authored by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, and published by JAMA Surgery.

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Ziba Kashef: ziba.kashef@yale.edu, 203-436-9317