MONDAY, Oct. 29, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Treating gunshot wounds in American children and teens costs roughly $270 million a year in hospital bills, researchers report.
"In our study, we found that for every 100,000 teenagers and children arriving to the emergency department, 11 come for a gun-related injury," said study author Dr. Faiz Gani. He is a research fellow at Johns Hopkins Surgery Center for Outcomes Research, in Baltimore.
"In other words, this represents over 8,300 children and teenagers each year who come to the emergency department to be treated for a gunshot wound," he added.
"Our study not only highlights the substantial clinical burden and loss of life associated with gunshot wounds, but also reiterates the large economic and financial consequences of these injuries to patients and their families," Gani explained.
His team analyzed data from more than 75,000 patients aged 18 and younger treated for gunshot wounds at ERs during the study period. About 86 percent of the patients were male, and their average age was 15.
Males were five times more likely than females to be treated for gunshot wounds, and the rate was highest among males aged 15 to 17, at nearly 86 ER visits per 100,000 people, the findings showed.
The main causes of gunshot wounds were assault (49 percent), unintentional injuries (39 percent) and suicide (2 percent). Six percent of the patients died in the emergency department or after being admitted to the hospital.
The average emergency and inpatient hospital charges were $2,445 and $44,966 per visit, respectively, according to the study published Oct. 29 in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.
"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," Gani said in a journal news release.
"As a system, we need to do much better and can only improve if we focus our efforts to understand these injuries and develop policies that prevent these injuries to our children," he concluded.
For more on gun violence in the United States, go to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.