FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — June 30, 2022
Media Contact: Brookie Crawford, firstname.lastname@example.org
Virginia Department of Health Launches Firearm Injuries in Virginia: Emergency Department Visits Dashboard
RICHMOND, VA – Today, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) launched a new data dashboard on firearm injuries in Virginia showing the number and rate of emergency department (ED) visits from 2016 to 2022. The dashboard shows firearm injury data by year, health district, age group, sex, and race/ethnicity across Virginia.
The dashboard is a result of the Firearm Injury Surveillance Through Emergency Rooms (FASTER) funding awarded to VDH by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). VDH is one of 10 recipients funded for three years with the goal to improve public health surveillance of firearm injuries using near-real time ED data.
“The misuse and mishandling of firearms constitute a significant cause of injury in Virginia,” said State Health Commissioner Colin M. Greene, MD, MPH. “This data set, obtained from emergency department records, will assist in the assessment of proximate causes of firearm-related injury, with an eye toward prevention of future injuries.”
The dashboard findings show:
- The number of ED visits for firearm injury increased 72% from 2018 (1,635 visits per year) to 2021 (2,815 visits per year).
- From January 2016 through May 2022, the majority of firearm injury ED visits in Virginia (86%) were among males.
- Among racial groups, most ED visits for firearm injury occurred among Black patients. In 2021, 65% of ED visits for firearm injury were among Black patients, compared to 22% among White patients.
- Young adults bear the highest burden of ED visits for firearm injury with nearly one-third (31%) occurring among adults aged 18-24 years in 2021.
VDH worked with an advisory group of partners, including hospitals, education partners, law enforcement, state agencies and community organizations, to understand data needs and gather feedback about the firearm injury data dashboard. Hospital and freestanding EDs report data to VDH, a partnership that is key for timely tracking of community health impacts.
This data is an example of syndromic surveillance, a strategy used by public health to detect emerging health issues and monitor community health in near-real time. Learn more about syndromic surveillance at: www.vdh.virginia.gov/surveillance-and-investigation/syndromic-surveillance/.
In the next year, VDH hopes to expand the firearm injury dashboard to include data on firearm injury hospitalizations and deaths. While intent of injury (assault, intentional self-harm, unintentional) is not available through the ED data at this time, it will be available for hospitalization and death data.
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