Through their collaboration, North Carolina Firearm Injury Surveillance Through Emergency Rooms (NC-FASTER), the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Injury Prevention Research Center and Carolina Center for Health Informatics, along with the North Carolina Division of Public Health’s Injury and Violence Prevention Branch, recently published a fact sheet investigating non-fatal firearm injury-related ED visits in North Carolina, leveraging data from NC DETECT.
NC DETECT was queried for non-fatal firearm injury-related ED visits occurring in 2019, 2020, and the 1st quarter (Q1: January-March) of 2021, with the monthly counts reported in the chart above. The monthly frequency of non-fatal firearm injury-related ED visits was higher in 2020 compared to 2019, while Q1-2021 was similar to Q1-2020. The higher frequency of visits in 2020 is of note given the relative decline in the frequency of injury-related ED visits overall during the same time period due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the year April 2020 through March 2021, there were 5,641 ED visits related to nonfatal firearm injuries, with a statewide annual rate of 53.8 visits per 100,000 residents. When stratified by mechanism of intent, the majority of visits (70%) were due to an unintentional injury. Of the remaining ~30% of visits, about half were classified as assaults and half were of an undetermined intent, while approximately 1% were from a self-inflicted injury. The proportion of injuries classified as unintentional is higher in North Carolina than among estimates for the US population at large. The CDC estimated only 20% of non-fatal firearm-related injuries are unintentional, while data from the national emergency department sample suggests ~51% of visits are due to an unintentional firearm-related injury.
When stratified by age, 44% of ED visits for firearm injury were individuals age 25-44 years, followed by 18-24-year-olds accounting for 29% of visits. Together, these two age groups account for only 35% of North Carolina’s population but 73% of all firearm injuries treated in the ED. Males made up 84% of non-fatal firearm injury-related ED visits in North Carolina, similar to the national estimate of 87%. When stratified by race/ethnicity non-Hispanic Black patients accounted for 46% of visits, disproportionate to their representation among North Carolina’s population (22%).
If you find this information interesting, please take a look at the full fact sheet and keep an eye out for fact sheets focusing on the second and third quarters of 2021, which will be published shortly.