1. Wurster, Lee Ann MS, RN, CPNP-PC, TCRN
  2. Herndon, Michele MSN, RN, TCRN, CPEN
  3. Seastrom, David BSN, RN
  4. Fritzeen, Jennifer MSN, RN, TCRN, P-CNS
  5. Mitchell, Kara MSN, RN, CPEN
  6. Schmid, Moe MA, MSN, RN, CCM
  7. Rumsey, Kelley DNP, RN, TCRN, CEN, ACNP, PNP


BACKGROUND: The increase in firearm injuries at U.S. pediatric trauma centers is a national public health crisis. This spike in penetrating trauma has challenged even the most mature pediatric trauma centers.


OBJECTIVE: This project aims to identify U.S. pediatric trauma center best practices for the evaluation and resources dedicated to pediatric firearm injuries.


METHODS: This study used an exploratory cross-sectional survey design using a study-specific questionnaire. An electronic survey was distributed to 159 verified U.S. pediatric trauma centers targeting patients younger than 15 years with firearm injuries from 2017 to 2021. Trauma approaches to injury prevention, advocacy, and common performance improvement events were surveyed. A follow-up survey provided a drill-down on the top three performance improvement events.


RESULTS: A total 159 surveys were distributed, of which 63 (40%) submitted partial responses and 32 (20%) completed the initial survey in full. A 49% increase in pediatric firearm injuries occurred between 2019 and 2020. Eighty-six percent of the trauma centers identified at least one to two opportunities for improvement events related to firearm injuries, with most of these events requiring a tertiary level of review. The top three performance improvement events included the massive transfusion protocol/fluid resuscitation, emergency department procedures, and operating room resource availability.


CONCLUSIONS: This study provides the first known examination of U.S. pediatric trauma center quality improvement efforts to address the crisis of pediatric firearm injuries. Our results indicate that most pediatric trauma centers are engaged in quality improvement and resource enhancement to combat firearm injuries.