NORFOLK, Va. — The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) launched a dashboard Thursday that shows statewide data on firearm injuries and emergency room visits because of those injuries.
The dashboard breaks down firearm injury data by year, health district, age group, sex and race/ethnicity across Virginia. It shows the number and rate of emergency room visits from 2016 to 2022.
The dashboard was made using funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s program to track emergency visits for nonfatal firearm injuries. VDH is one of 10 state health departments funded for three years.
An advisory group, including hospitals, education partners, law enforcement, state agencies and community organizations, came together to help VDH understand data needs and provide feedback on the dashboard.
“The misuse and mishandling of firearms constitute a significant cause of injury in Virginia,” State Health Commissioner Colin Greene said in a news release. “This data set, obtained from emergency department records, will assist in the assessment of proximate causes of firearm-related injury, with an eye toward prevention of future injuries.”
The dashboard findings for Virginia show:
- The number of emergency room visits for firearm injuries increased 72% from 2018 (1,635 visits per year) to 2021 (2,815 visits per year).
- From January 2016 through May 2022, the majority of emergency room visits for firearm injuries were among males (86%).
- Among racial groups, most visits for firearm injuries occurred among Black people. In 2021, 65% of visits were among Black people, compared to 22% among White people.
- Young adults bear the highest burden of visits with nearly one-third (31%) occurring among people between 18 and 24 years old in 2021.
VDH said it hopes to expand the dashboard in the next year to include data on firearm injury hospitalizations and deaths. While the intent of injury isn't available through the emergency room data right now, it will be available for hospitalization and death data.
The dashboard is available on VDH's website.