Non Fatal Firearm Injuries Are Significant Public Health Issue Interview with:

Sarabeth Spitzer, MD Co-Chair of Board, Scrubs Addressing the Firearm Epidemic (SAFE) Department of Surgery, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Dr. Spitzer

Sarabeth Spitzer, MD
Co-Chair of Board, Scrubs Addressing the Firearm Epidemic (SAFE)
Department of Surgery, Brigham and Women’s Hospital What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Firearm injury is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States, resulting in almost 40,000 deaths annually in the United States, but very little is known about the epidemiology of nonfatal firearm injuries. Nonfatal firearm injuries can have significant long-term morbidity and are associated with significant cost. We found that there were over 81,000 nonfatal firearm injuries in California over the study period. Over the period, there was a decrease in nonfatal firearm injuries by 38.1%, driven primarily by a decrease in assault injuries. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Readers should take away that nonfatal firearm injuries are a significant public health issue. Although the number of nonfatal injuries decreased, neither the case fatality rate of all firearm injuries (how many people survive firearm injuries anywhere) nor the clinical case fatality rate (the number of patients who survive a firearm injury once in the Emergency Department or hospital) improved. More research needs to be done to further elaborate on these findings. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work? 

Response: Future research is needed to determine why nonfatal firearm injuries decreased over the study period while the case fatality rates did not improve. In addition, similar research in a multitude of states is needed to further understand the epidemiology of nonfatal injuries in the country as a whole.

The authors have no disclosures .


Spitzer SA, Pear VA, McCort CD, Wintemute GJ. Incidence, Distribution, and Lethality of Firearm Injuries in California From 2005 to 2015. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(8):e2014736. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.14736 

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Last Updated on September 1, 2020 by Marie Benz MD FAAD