St. Louis Children's Hospital surpassed 100 gun injuries in 2019 for highest total since 2008

St. Louis Children’s Hospital treated 102 gunshot injuries in 2019, ending the decade with the highest number of gun-injured patients in more than 10 years, according to data supplied by the hospital.

The number was a dramatic increase to end a five-year period from 2015 to 2019 that saw the hospital treat 65 percent more gun injuries than the previous five years (2010-14).

St. Louis Children’s Hospital was the focus of my book “Under the Gun: A Children’s Hospital on the Front Line of an American Crisis,” in which I documented the high volume of gun injuries seen at SLCH. The hospital has long laid claim to treating more gun injuries than any children’s hospital in the United States.

The 102 GSWs last year were the most since 2008 when SLCH saw 110.

SLCH classified 27.5 percent of the 2019 gun injuries as unintentional, which was a decrease over some previous periods when the rate was close to one-third unintentional.

The large volume was not a surprise in a year that saw 29 children and teens killed by gunfire in the St. Louis area, as documented by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Of the 29, 24 were in Missouri and five in Illinois communities.

The hospital treated 16 patients for GSWs who were 10 or younger. The significant number of young children being shot also was reflected by those who were killed. They were 12.6 years old on average. It is unknown how many of those children were treated at the hospital before they died.

SLCH has treated an average of 86 gun injuries per year since 2015. Neighboring Barnes-Jewish Hospital has seen an increase in the number of teens with GSWs during the same period of time.

When I started working on the book, the SLCH was emerging from a period in which it was inundated with gun injuries. That number began to decline, and the downward trend continued through 2013. However, the number in 2019 was nearly three times as many as were seen in 2013.

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