In-depth: Emergency rooms see increase in gunshot patients since pandemic began

VUMC vanderbilt
Posted at 10:29 PM, Oct 12, 2021

NASHVILLE, Tenn (WTVF) — Emergency departments across the state and the country have spent a year and a half fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Medical professionals say they're also fighting another pandemic — gun violence.

Since the start of the health crisis, emergency rooms have been seeing more and more patients.

"Things have been crazy," said Dr. Tyler Barrett. "Our volume has been really the highest it's ever been. We're seeing somewhere between probably 10 and 20% more patients than we did pre-pandemic."

Barrett serves as the Executive Medical Director of Emergency Services at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

"We're seeing a ton of COVID-related patients, we're seeing patients with a lot of other kind of medical conditions, and our trauma volume, really never dropped off at all," he said.

Emergency departments across the country say they're fighting two pandemics - COVID and gunshot victims.

Vanderbilt's Trauma Center officials said since the pandemic began, the number of gunshot wounds has increased.

"We were seeing about 35 to 40 patients; now we're seeing 60 or more and that's just here in the adult E.D.," Barrett said.

When it comes to COVID, Barrett says the trend is going down a bit but they're seeing about 30 patients come in with coronavirus complications every day.

"About 85% of the patients that we're seeing get really sick with COVID and have to be hospitalized are not vaccinated," he said.

Some may say these two pandemics are preventable.

Barrett says all this can cause strain on a busy staff, but he says they're working hard every day to save lives.