New report shows rise in gunshot wounds in children and motorcycle crashes

University Health System released its fifth Community Trauma Report last week, identifying serious injury trends in Bexar County and South Texas based on the thousands of adults and children treated in University Hospital’s level I trauma center and level I pediatric trauma center each year.

University Hospital treated 1,932 children and 5,361 adults with serious injuries in 2017. Those numbers have risen steadily over several years, in large part because it serves one of the fastest growing regions in the country.

Among all patients, both children and adults, falls were the leading injury cause, followed by car crashes, burns, people struck by objects and pedestrians hit by cars.

Car crashes were the leading cause among those ages 5 to 44.

The hospital saw a significant jump in children intentionally shot with firearms the past two years, with 38 in 2016 and 31 in 2017. Prior to that, University Hospital treated nine children intentionally shot in 2013, eight in 2014 and four in 2015.

“That number should be zero,” said Dr. Lillian Liao, pediatric trauma and burn director at University Hospital.

Dr. Mark Muir, adult trauma medical director at University Hospital, said that after a multi-year decline in adult motorcycle injuries, they rose significantly in both 2016 and 2017. There was also a one-year spike in adult bicycle injuries with 98 people injured in 2017 — almost double the number seen in 2015.

This year’s report also highlighted the strong partnership between University Hospital and the level I trauma center at Brooke Army Medical Center. It is the only level I trauma center in the Department of Defense, and at a news conference to release the report, several speakers pointed out that it was a critical asset to maintaining the skills of its medical team in wartime.

Discussions by private hospitals to increase their trauma designations to level II have alarmed local leaders who say it would potentially threaten military readiness by diverting seriously injured patients needed to maintain those skills.

“Any reduction in civilian trauma patient volume at BAMC would negatively impact military readiness and, ultimately, roll back the dramatic improvements that have recently been made in combat casualty care and mortality rates,” said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff.

The report can be read online here.