The financial burden of musculoskeletal firearm injuries in children with and without concomitant intra-cavitary injuries

Parker T. Evans, Jacquelyn S. Pennings, Richard Samade, Harold N. Lovvorn, Jeffrey E. Martus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Musculoskeletal pediatric firearm injuries are a clinically significant and expensive public health problem in the United States. In this retrospective cohort analysis, we sought to characterize musculoskeletal firearm injuries in children and to describe the financial burden associated with these injuries. Methods: This study is a single center, retrospective review. Patients were identified from January 2002 – December 2015 from an institutional database using ICD-9 codes pertaining to firearm injury. Inclusion criteria were: 1) age < 18 years at injury; 2) firearm injury to an extremity, spine, or pelvis; and 3) patient received orthopedic evaluation and/or treatment. 140 patients with 142 distinct orthopedic injuries meeting inclusion criteria were analyzed (N = 142). Primary measures were demographic and situational data including intent, length of stay, follow-up, and complications; and financial outcomes including charges, costs, and net revenues. Results: Median age was 15.3 years [IQR: 13.3, 16.4], 84% were male, and 52% were African American. 59% of the firearm injuries were of violent intent. 32% of patients were privately insured, 61% were publicly insured, and 6% were uninsured. Median length of stay was 2 days [0, 4], with 73% of patients being admitted. 43% of patients required additional hospitalizations, emergency room visits, and/or outpatient surgeries, and 93% of patients had outpatient follow-up. 42% of patients experience an injury-related or long-term orthopedic complication. Total charges for the cohort were $11.4 million, with $3.7 million in costs and $45,042 in net revenues. In the multivariable analysis, more surgeries predicted higher charges, and more secondary encounters predicted higher costs and net revenues. Only privately-insured patients had a positive median net revenue. Conclusions: Children who sustain musculoskeletal injuries from firearms experience high rates of orthopedic complications. Institutional costs to manage these preventable injuries are excessive. Policy makers should continue to pursue measures to reduce gun violence and improve gun safety in the pediatric population. Level of Evidence: Level III, economic/decision.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1754-1760
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pediatric Surgery
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Cost
  • Finance
  • Firearms
  • Musculoskeletal
  • Orthopedic
  • Public health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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