Proportion of Violent Injuries Unreported to Law Enforcement | Emergency Medicine | JAMA Internal Medicine | JAMA Network
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    Research Letter
    January 2019

    Proportion of Violent Injuries Unreported to Law Enforcement

    Author Affiliations
    • 1Grady Health System, Atlanta, Georgia
    • 2Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia
    • 3Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, Oak Ridge, Tennessee
    • 4Division of Violence Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia
    JAMA Intern Med. 2019;179(1):111-112. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.5139

    Interpersonal violence is a leading cause of death and injury in the United States.1 Although many cities rely on official law enforcement data to determine the magnitude, patterns, and prevention strategies for violence, data from the National Crime Victimization Survey conducted by the US Department of Justice indicates that a large number (52.6%) of violent crimes resulting in injury goes unreported to law enforcement.2 Consequently, because of incomplete data, cities are limited in their ability to effectively prevent and respond to violence.

    In the United States, there is a paucity of information using hospital-based data to examine the proportion of violent injuries that are unreported to police. One study examined the proportion of firearm injuries unreported to police (such injuries are typically subject to mandatory reporting laws)3; however, little is known about all forms of violent injury. Thus, we sought to quantify the proportion of violence-related injuries treated in the emergency department (ED) that were unknown to law enforcement to better understand whether ED data on violence could complement police data and enhance a city’s understanding of violence.