While the majority of child shooting studies focus on the mortality rate, what often goes ignored is the toll a nonfatal gunshot wound takes on a child.
Death from a gun-related injury is ranked second only to motor vehicle crashes for cause of death in children ages 15 to 19. A new study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics takes “a broader look” at the negative effects beyond death.
Children who are shot are more likely to require major surgery and incur higher medical bills than if they were to suffer from any other childhood injury.
From 2001 to 2010, 29,331 children ages zero to 19 died from gun-related injuries. Another 155,000 had nonfatal injuries requiring treatment in emergency facilities.
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“Gunshot-related injury is a major public health issue for children,” said Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University. “The low incidence and high burden of pediatric gunshot injuries suggests that more effective means to reduce such injuries must be strategic to have an impact.”
The majority, 82 percent, of children shot are older adolescent males ages 15 to 19.
"If we focus on just fatalities, we're only looking at the tip of the iceberg," said lead author Craig Newgard, associate professor and director of the Center for Policy and Research in Emergency Medicine at the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland.
Researchers compared gunshots to six other fatal injuries and found gun-related injuries have a dramatically higher adverse outcome. Children shot have the highest proportion of major surgey, serious injury, death in hospitals, and cost of acute care.
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The average treatment cost for a shooting victim is $28,510. The average cost for a person run over by a car is $15,566.
"In every metric that we looked at, the front-runner far and away for worst outcome and greatest impact was gunshot-related injuries," says Newgard.
While researchers only analyzed five areas in the Western U.S., Newgard says the national picture is probably higher than their estimate.
In New Orleans alone 16 children under the age of 19 have died from a gun-related injury this year, according to the Times-Picayune.