Pediatric Trauma Society

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Children Shooting Children: A Portrayal of Accidental Firearm Injuries
Lucas Neff, MD1; Amina M. Bhatia, MD2
1Emory University, Atlanta, GA; 2CHOA, Atlanta, GA

Background: Firearms kill or injure more than 7000 children annually. In younger children, a large proportion of these firearm injuries are accidental, often at the hands of a child. The aim of this study was to examine the circumstances around accidental firearm injuries.

Methods: After IRB approval, a retrospective review of patients with firearm injuries identified prospective trauma registry was performed. Social work notes were used to identify the shooter's age, gender, and relationship to the patient.

Results: Seventy children were evaluated for firearm injuries during the study period with 50% accidental and 50% intentional. Among the 35 patients felt to be victims of accidental firearm injuries (ACC), the average age was 7.74 years (SD4.53) and average ISS was 11.49 (SD7.73). Among ACC, 71.43% were male and 71.43% were black. Ninety-seven percent of ACC had a Medicaid insurance program. In ACC, the shooter was a child in 30/35 (85.71%) of cases, with the shooter being a sibling, relative or friend in 18/35 (60%) with an average age of 7.05 years (SD4.29). The gender of the shooter in ACC was identified in 85% of cases and was male in 93.33%. In ACC, the event occurred in the child's home (62.86%), relative's or friend's home (11.43%), outside (14.25%) or car (11.43%).

Conclusions: Accidental firearm injuries often occur at the hands of a child, often a sibling, friend or relative. More research is needed on the immediate and long-term impact on the child shooter as a 'second victim' of these tragic events.

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