Investigators from the University of Maryland, College Park, conducted a retrospective study to assess the morbidity and mortality among children admitted to the PICU with firearm injuries. Data for this study was obtained from 107 PICUs participating in the Virtual Pediatrics Systems (VPS) database, a consortium of PICUs that contribute demographic and clinical data on hospitalized children. VPS data from 2009–2017 were obtained for the current study.
Patients with firearm injure in the VPS database using ICD codes. Among identified patients, demographics, cause of firearm injury (assault, suicide attempt, unintentional, or undetermined), site of injury, and discharge scores on validated scales for overall functional morbidity (the Pediatric Overall Performance Category; POPC) and cognitive impairment (Pediatric Cerebral Performance Category; PCPC) were abstracted from VPS. The primary outcome was death in the PICU. Secondary outcomes included discharge scores on the POPC and PCPC among those who survived, with scores categorized as normal, mild, moderate, or severe disability, or coma/vegetative state. The investigators used chi-squared tests to assess the association of demographics and clinical characteristics with outcomes.
There were 1,447 identified patients admitted to the PICU for firearm injuries. Of these, 44.60 were Black, 77.50 were male, and 57.30 were 13-18 years old. The most common cause of firearm injury was unintentional (67.70), and the most common site of injury was the head or neck (30.70).
Overall, 175 (120) patients died, with a higher proportion of white (41.10) children who died compared to Black (30.90) and Hispanic (6.90) children (P < 0.05). Suicide attempt was the cause of firearm injury with the highest rate of death (52 of 95 patients with suicide attempt by firearm injury died). Overall, among those who survived to discharge, most had mild disability.
The investigators conclude that the mortality among children admitted to the PICU for firearm injury is high.
Dr Bratton has disclosed no financial relationship relevant to this commentary. This commentary does not contain a discussion of an unapproved/investigative use of a commercial product/device.
The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has intensified economic and social stressors and highlighted the presence of systemic racism in the US. Gun ownership and violent crime as well as mass shootings have increased dramatically during the past year.1 In the current study of PICU gun victims, male, teenaged, and Black children were over-represented. Younger children were more likely to have unintentional injuries compared to older children. Assault was more common among Black children, while self-inflicted injuries were more common in white children, led to head and neck injuries, and were more frequently lethal. To develop and evalu-ate prevention strategies to decrease firearm injuries and death, the investigators need to capture information on all children at risk for firearm injuries and death. Those who die prior to hospital admission and...