WEDNESDAY, June 30, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Pediatric firearm-related injuries are a large financial burden to U.S. health care system, according to a study published online June 23 in PLOS ONE.

Jordan S. Taylor, M.D., from Stanford University in California, and colleagues used the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Kids’ Inpatient Database (2003, 2006, 2009, and 2012) to identify all patients ≤18 years of age admitted to the hospital with firearm-related injuries.

The researchers identified approximately 4,753 pediatric firearm-related admissions each year, with a median hospitalization cost of $12,984 per patient. Over the study period, annual initial hospitalization costs for pediatric firearm injuries were approximately $109 million. Pediatric firearm-related injuries were most common among older teenagers (16 to 18 years; 74 percent), males (89 percent), Black youth (55 percent), and among those from the lowest income quartile (53 percent). Unintentional firearm injuries were highest in children aged ≤5 years. There was significant cost variation seen based on patient race, income quartile, injury severity score, intent, hospital length of stay, disposition, and hospital region. Over the study period, inflation-adjusted hospitalization costs increased significantly.

“A lot of children are being harmed, and that’s costly to our health care system,” a coauthor said in a statement. “If we could prevent these injuries, the money could be spent in so many other places.”

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