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Pre-adolescent Gunshot Injuries: Anatomy of a Jamaican Problem

Issue: 
Pages: 
508–13

ABSTRACT

This retrospective analysis explores the apparent increase in gunshot injuries among pre-adolescent Jamaican children. During the five-year study period (2001–2005), 74 children less than 12 years old were treated for gunshot injuries at the Bustamante Hospital for Children. In the last four years of the study, the hospital incidence of such child shootings rose by 155%. Children between six and eleven years of age were seen to be at particular risk. Shootings were likely to occur between 4:00 pm and 10:00 pm in the evening, at or near home, in inner city communities. Affected children were unlikely to have been under direct adult supervision at the time of injury and were reported to be intended targets of the shooting in 49% of cases. Injuries to the limbs occurred most frequently, resulting chiefly in soft tissue injuries and open fractures. Half required operative intervention, most avoiding blood transfusion. Hospital stay was usually less than a week. Though clearly needed, social support services were underutilized. A mortality rate of 4% was seen but long-term morbidity was uncommon. Routine social and psychiatric evaluation of victims, organized after school-care, establishment of paediatric paramedical services, establishment of a dedicated paediatric interhospital transfer team and more widespread training in paediatric trauma management are recommended to improve the quality of care given to paediatric victims of firearm injuries.

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e-Published: 04 Jul, 2013
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