Emergency room doctors treat many patients who have been involved in violent assaults. New research shows that these patients are far more likely than other ER patients with otherwise similar demographics to seek treatment for gun-related injuries in the near future.
These findings "could help injury researchers, emergency department physicians, and social service agencies focus their intervention efforts to prevent future firearm incidents and other violent incidents among high-risk youth populations," explains a University of Michigan press release published Monday.
The study, published in Pediatrics, followed nearly 600 drug-using youth in Flint, Mich. for two years after they were admitted to the emergency room. Nearly 60 percent of those admitted for assault-injury care became involved in a violent incident involving a firearm within the next two years, and of those, the majority did so within six months after the initial visit. Between two people with highly similar demographic factors, someone admitted for assault is 40 percent more likely to be involved in gun violence than someone admitted for a cold.
The results also calculated the statistical correlations of various markers, such as race, gender, drug abuse, PTSD, possession of a firearm, and tendency toward retaliation (see the release for the details). ERs that track such markers could identify the highest-risk youth and help them receive targeted treatment. The release quotes Patrick M. Carter, MD, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at UM, member of the UM Injury Center, and first author of the study, saying the results "support using the ER as the site for intervention, especially during the 'teachable moment' that immediately follows an initial assault or fight."
Previously: Pediatricians' role in gun control: Recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, Emergency-room interventions may reduce alcohol-based violence among teens and Emergency room as soup kitchen
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