The economic climate may impact incidence of firearm-related injuries and fatalities, which pose a burden on U.S. healthcare resources, report scientists.
A new study published in The American Journal of Medicine, shows that from 2001-2011, the national incidence of firearm-related hospitalizations has closely tracked the national stock market performance.
Hospitalization Costs Affect American Economy
Although the fatality rates have remained stable over the last two decades, the average length of stay and hospitalization costs have increased, imposing additional burden on existing healthcare resources.
Firearms are the second leading cause of injury-related deaths after motor vehicle accidents in the U.S.
- Approximately 88 people dying every day, including suicides, homicides, unintentional injuries, or accidents.
The study analyzed data from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) database from 2001-2011 which indicated that 70,974 hospitalizations were the result of firearm-related injuries.
The number of hospitalizations fluctuated during this time frame as follows:
- modest increase during 2002 and 2004
- a slow decline until 2008
- a sharp increase in 2009 and 2010
- followed by a sharp decline in 2011
The overall fatality rate for hospitalization following firearm-related injury has been stable at about 8%, with suicide responsible for more than 30% of those deaths. An analysis of the data also showed that there has been an increase in the prevalence of mental-health disorders among people admitted with firearm-related injuries.
Economic perturbations may be a 'root cause' or at least an important predictor of firearm injuries. Separating the data into two time intervals, 2001-2006 and 2007-2011, found that there was a small but significant drop in the number of patients discharged to home during the later time interval.
In addition, the average length of stay following firearm-related injury increased from 6.6 days in 2001-2006 to 7.4 days in 2007-2011, including a significant increase in the proportion of patients who were in hospital for more than 10 days (18.1% in 2001-2006 to 20.8% in 2007-2011.)
This was also associated with an average hospitalization cost of $25,155 in 2007-2011 vs. $20,686 in 2001-2006.