Emergency department patients treated for gunshot wounds to the chest or abdomen are more likely to wind up in the hospital again than those who have such wounds in other areas of the body, a new study finds.
The study included 110 patients with a history of gunshot wounds. Most were men, with an average age of 50. The patients were seen in the emergency department at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia.
Of those patients, 36 were readmitted with neurologic, abdominal or chest, or extremity injuries, the findings showed.
Eighteen were readmitted for complications from their previous gunshot wounds. Three surgeries — two of them chest surgeries — were performed.
Twenty-four patients had neurologic injuries, while nine had abdominal or chest wounds. Three patients had major blood vessel injuries, the study found.
The findings are scheduled for presentation next week at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, in Chicago. Research presented at meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
“Where you are shot has an effect on your long-term health,” said lead researcher Dr. Corbin Pomeranz, a radiology resident.
When it comes to treating gunshot wound patients, he noted that most of the cost is due to ongoing care, including dealing with complications.
“The vast majority of research on gun violence focuses on emergency care, but in reality only a tiny fraction of the billions spent on medical care from gun violence in the U.S. is spent on direct expenses for emergency medical care,” Pomeranz said in a society news release.
“Gun violence is a national health emergency and yet there is a profound lack of research on the long-term consequences of gunshot-related injuries,” he added.
Pomeranz said he hopes the study will lead to further research, including a look at treatment outcomes and whether bullets or fragments are left behind in patients’ bodies.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine outlines the aftercare of gunshot wounds.