New numbers from Cook Children’s Medical Center show the Fort Worth hospital could potentially treat a record number of patients for gunshot wounds this year.
As of May 2021, the hospital has treated 35 children for gunshot wounds with two patients dying from their injuries. In 2020, the number of patients treated for similar injuries totaled 47 and four deaths. In 2019, they treated 41 patients including five deaths.
Dr. Dan Guzman, an emergency physician at Cook Children’s, said most of the cases stemmed from unintentional shootings. The hospital is on track to exceed prior years, Guzman said.
“It’s frustrating and it’s hurtful. You don’t want to see any child in that kind of situation,” Dr. Guzman said. “The vast majority that we see are going to be head and neck injuries. From those injuries, it’s almost impossible to save a life, because the damage has been done to our brain.”
Fort Worth pediatrician Dr. Gary Floyd, a former medical director of Cook Children’s emergency department and current president-elect of the Texas Medical Association, said education and prevention are key.
“Unfortunately, this is not just a local issue. It’s a national issue. I cannot describe to you the devastation of trying to console parents when one of the siblings that unintentionally shot another sibling,” Dr. Floyd said.
Floyd adds gun owners need to have open and honest conversations with their children.
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“Guns should be unloaded and locked up. There should be trigger locks applied that require a key and that key should stay with the parent,” he said. “If they’re going to have a loaded gun in the house, that gun should be on them. They should carry it so they know where it is every second.”
Katia Gonzalez with the Alliance For Children said the conversations on gun safety should not only be between children and their parents, but other adults, as well.
“Maybe if they’re [children] going to a sleepover, maybe having that awkward…or potentially uncomfortable conversation and ask “hey, are there guns in the home?” and other safety issues that might involved,” Gonzalez explained.
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