herald

Saturday 18 August 2018

Gun victims at one Dublin hospital reach 65 in 10 year period

Criminal John Gilligan leaving hospital after he was injured in a gun attack
Criminal John Gilligan leaving hospital after he was injured in a gun attack

A REPORT into Dublin's gun crime has warned that medical resources could be strained if the upward trend of shootings continues.

The study, published in the Irish Medical Journal (IMJ), found that there was a "dramatic" increase in gun crime in Dublin over the previous four decades.

An increase in the use of deadly high-velocity weapons, such as handguns, rifles and semi-automatic weapons, and a declining average age of shooting victims were among the trends noted by the report.

One issued highlighted by the report was that doctors rarely have to deal with gunshot wounds while in the residency phase of their training.

ILLEGAL

It said that the experience gained in large urban centres can be useful in dealing with gunshot injuries.

It said the trends were attributed to increased gangland activity and the illegal drug trade.

A separate review of gunshot injuries in the 10 years to 1985 found that there were 21 injuries, 20 of which were with low velocity weapons, and four victims who died.

The current study, conducted in Connolly Hospital, west Dublin - where notorious criminal John Gilligan was treated this year following a gangland shooting - showed that 65 gunshot victims were seen at the emergency department between 2001 and 2010, though charts were only available for 59 of them.

The patients were aged between 15 and 52 and the mean age was just older than 27. Only one victim was female.

In total, 29 of those victims gave their profession as unemployed and 10 were from the Travelling community.

In previous studies, it was shown that the mortality rate for victims who suffered wounds from low-velocity firearms was as low as 6pc.

The report said that mortality for high-velocity wounds was much higher, with 10 out of 23 patients, or 43pc, passing away. This compared to two of 34 for low-velocity shotgun wounds.

Bullet wounds tended to be focused around the torso, head and neck, and shotgun wounds tended to be concentrated around the peripheries.

Eight patients died in the emergency department.

In considering the use of resources by victims, the study noted that of 51 patients that survived beyond the emergency department, 43 had radiography, and 15 had CT scans in the emergency setting.

A further 10 had follow up CT scans. Five patients were transferred for emergent management in interventional radiology. Four patients underwent emergency ultrasound scans.

During the period of the study, 15 cases underwent post-mortem radiological scans.

Wounds

These cases were usually for forensic and legal purposes, for example for dental age estimation, or bullet retrieval.

The authors concluded that despite the evident increase in gunshot injuries, the numbers in Ireland are still low by international comparison.

They found that while the burden on radiology departments remained relatively low, "should the increasing trend continue, further resources and expertise may be required".

hnews@herald.ie

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