Nonfatal gun injuries in the United States are becoming more severe, increasing pressure on the health care system, researchers say.
Since the 1990s, the severity of nonfatal gun injuries treated in U.S. hospitals has risen 1.4 percent a year, the new study found.
"Both males and females and all types of intents of firearm injury demonstrated a comparable significant increase in national trends in firearm hospitalizations injury severity," said corresponding study author Bindu Kalesan, an assistant professor of medicine at Boston University.
Nonfatal gun injuries account for about 70 percent of all gun wounds in the United States.
To learn more about trends in severity, Kalesan's team analyzed nationwide data on nearly 649,000 hospital admissions for gun injuries between 1993 and 2014.
About 88 percent of the victims were male, and nearly 6 percent were children. More than 8 in 10 were between 16 and 45 years old, while 12 percent were 46 or older, the study found.
The causes of the injuries varied. Close to two-thirds of the gun injuries stemmed from assaults. About one-quarter were accidental; 9 percent were from self-harm, and 7 percent were undetermined, the researchers found.
The results were published in the journal Trauma Surgery & Acute Care Open.
The extent of injury severity was lower in children than adults, and increased less consistently for kids from 1998 to 2014 compared with adults, Kalesan added.
The increase in the severity of nonfatal gun injuries "reflects a move towards hospitalization of more serious injuries, and outpatient management of less serious injuries across the board," Kalesan said in a journal news release. This suggests a mounting burden on the U.S. health care system, she noted.
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has more on gun violence.
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