"This data supports the theory that violence is not usually an isolated phenomenon," said lead author Jahan Fahimi from University of California-San Francisco."The after-effects of surviving firearm injuries, in the population we studied, are comparable to living with a chronic disease, with the risk of death highest during the first year after the injury," he added.

The study found that patients victimised by firearms were five to six times more likely to die in the first year, compared to other injured patients.

In the study, the researchers compared mortality rates for three groups of Emergency Department patients. Approximately 1,000 had been injured in a motor vehicle collision, 700 were victims of non-firearm assaults and 500 had non self-inflicted gunshot wounds.

The patients had all been treated in 2007 at Highland Hospital in Oakland, California. The researchers found that nine percent of gunshot wound patients died during the initial hospital visit, versus less than one percent for those in both the auto accident and non-firearm assault groups.

When they looked at the total percentage of people alive five years following discharge, they found that a further five percent of the gunshot wound patients had died and that 80 percent of these deaths were attributed to homicide.

The study was published in the journal Injury Prevention.


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