A global perspective on gun violence injuries

Jennifer Moriatis Wolf*, Laurent Mathieu, Scott Tintle, Kenneth Wilson, Shai Luria, Stephanie Vandentorren, Marie Boussaud, Jason Strelzow

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction and definitions: Civilian gunshot violence is a growing public health issue on a global scale. Treatment of patients with gunshot injuries is based on algorithms derived from military studies, but the distinct differences in weaponry, energy of injury, timing and type of care, and environment translate to a gap in knowledge. With a focus on non-accidental gunshot trauma and excluding suicide etiologies, we propose to build a collaborative research group to address important questions focused on best practices for gunshot injury patients. Pre-hospital care: There are important differences in the care of gunshot victims across the globe; some countries provide advanced interventions in the field and others deliver basic support until transport to a higher level of care in hospital. Some simple interventions include the use of extremity tourniquets and intravenous fluid support; others to consider are tranexamic acid, whole blood, and hemostatic agents. Acute treatment: Control of exsanguinating hemorrhage is a key priority for gunshot injuries. Military doctrine has evolved to prioritize exsanguination over airway or breathing as the critical first step. The X-ABC protocol focuses on exsanguinating hemorrhage, then standard evaluation of Airway, Breathing and Circulation (ABCs) to enhance survival in trauma patients. The timing of bony stabilization, in terms of damage-control vs definitive care, needs further study in this population, as does use of antibiotics for bony extremity injuries. Finally, recognition of the mental health effects of gun trauma, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorders, substance abuse and depression is important in advocating for prevention such as implementation of social support and specific interventions. Definitive care: The need for abdominal closure after exploratory laparotomy, definitive fracture treatment, and other treatment all contribute to length of stay for gunshot injured patients. Optimizing stabilization allows earlier mobilization and decreases nosocomial complications. Nerve injuries are often a source of long-term disability and their evaluation and treatment require further investigation. Resources and ethics: There are growing numbers of mass-casualty gunshot events, which require consideration of how to organize and use resources for treatment, including staff, operating room access, blood products, and order of treatment. Drills and planning for incident command hierarchy and communication are key to optimizing resource utilization. The ethics of choosing treatment priorities and resources are important considerations as well.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110763
JournalInjury
Volume54
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2023
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Civilian
  • Ethics
  • Firearms
  • Fracture
  • Gunshot
  • Military
  • Nerve

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