Since hospitalized self-inflicted firearm injuries have not been extensively studied, particularly regarding clinical diagnoses at the index admission, the objective of this study was to discover the diagnostic phenotypes (DPs) or clusters of hospitalized self-inflicted firearm injuries.
Using Nationwide Inpatient Sample data in the US from 1993 to 2014, we used International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision codes to identify self-inflicted firearm injuries among those ≥18 years of age. The 25 most frequent diagnostic codes were used to compute a dissimilarity matrix and the optimal number of clusters. We used hierarchical clustering to identify the main DPs. The overall cohort included 14072 hospitalizations, with self-inflicted firearm injuries occurring mainly in those between 16 to 45 years of age, black, with co-occurring tobacco and alcohol use, and mental illness. Out of the three identified DPs, DP1 was the largest (n=10,110), and included most common diagnoses similar to overall cohort, including major depressive disorders (27.7%), hypertension (16.8%), acute post hemorrhagic anemia (16.7%), tobacco (15.7%) and alcohol use (12.6%). DP2 (n=3,725) was not characterized by any of the top 25 ICD-9 diagnoses codes, and included children and peripartum women. DP3, the smallest phenotype (n=237), had high prevalence of depression similar to DP1, and defined by fewer fatal injuries of chest and abdomen. There were three distinct diagnostic phenotypes in hospitalizations due to self-inflicted firearm injuries. Further research is needed to determine how DPs can be used to tailor clinical care and prevention efforts. (Publisher Abstract)