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Harborview treats twice as many gunshot victims in July as it did two years ago

UW Medicine is treating a surge of gunshot victims, part of a nationwide uptick in violence.

SEATTLE — UW Medicine says doctors at Harborview Medical Center have treated twice as many gunshot wound victims this July compared with two years ago.

The hospital treated 26 gunshot victims in July 2019, 48 in July 2020, and 55 so far this month, as of Friday.

“It is a societal problem,” said Dr. Fred Rivara, “though I’m a physician, a pediatrician, it's not a medical problem, it's a problem all of us in society have to address.”

Rivara, director of the Firearm Injury and Policy Research Program at Harborview, says the uptick in shootings is happening in major cities nationwide and could be caused by several factors, including higher stress levels, an increase in gun sales, and increases in drug and alcohol use.

“If you have a firearm, make sure that it’s safely stored, to protect your family, your children, as well as to prevent it from being stolen,” he said.

When someone is admitted to Harborview with a gunshot wound, UW Medicine assigns a case manager to provide them with resources and help to prevent additional shootings.

The Firearm Injury and Policy Research Program has also developed a firearm safe storage map showing locations where people can stash a gun if someone in their household is in crisis, suicidal, or even homicidal.

“These are all measures that are important. They’re not going to work individually, but together, think they can make a difference to reduce the toll of gun violence,” Rivara said.