Half of gunshot victims treated at Vanderbilt are between 16 and 29 years old

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Vanderbilt University Medical Center has treated 436 gunshot victims since April 1, 2016, according to data provided by the hospital.

Of those patients, 72 died and approximately 50 percent were between the ages of 16 to 29 years old.

“We are certainly seeing more young people,” said Dr. Brad Dennis, assistant professor of trauma surgery. “About 15 percent of the patients come and are discharged from the emergency room, so our total number of gunshot wounds is closer to 500 over the past year.”

Vanderbilt is a Level 1 Trauma Center–the only one in Middle Tennessee. The most critically-injured gunshot patients come to the hospital from across the region, Southern Kentucky, and Northern Alabama.

Dr. Dennis said the patients treated increased about 25 percent compared to last year. Part of the increase is attributed to the population growth of Nashville, but he said increased gun violence is also a factor.

“Certainly it seems like a lot more gunshot wounds are related to violence than are related to accidental discharge,” he said.

Monday night, a 17-year-old was shot in the back of the head near the intersection of Paragon Mills and Nolensville road. He is expected to survive and is being treated at TriStar Skyline Medical Center.

According to Metro police’s report on gunshot victims, countywide, 39 people between the ages of 18 to 24 years old have been shot so far this year. Also this year, 11 people between the ages of 13 and 17 years old have been shot.

The information is from the Metro Nashville Police Department’s incident reports using Uniform Crime Reporting guidelines. The people included are people shot during a homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault where one or more victims received a fatal or non-fatal gunshot wound.

Suicides, suicide attempts, and accidental shootings are not included in the data, according to a disclaimer on Metro police’s data.

“What we would like to be able to do is prevent as many of these injuries as we can,” Dr. Dennis said. “We would like to be more involved in prevention of violence and in particular gun violence in the community.”

Dr. Dennis also told News 2 the survivors of gunshot wounds tend to have lasting effects, both physically and emotionally.

“Younger people tend to recover better from any sort of traumatic injury, gunshots included,” he said. “But there is a collateral impact on the family members, the witnesses on the scene, as well as the patient has physical effects.”

According to the Safe Tennessee Project, which tracks unintentional shootings, there have been 20 unintentional shootings in Tennessee. Of those shootings, nine involved children, and four died as a result.