Determining Intentionality of Pediatric Firearm Injuries by International Classification of Disease Code

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Pediatric emergency care








OBJECTIVE: Firearm injuries are a leading cause of serious injury and death in childhood. The accuracy of International Classification of Disease (ICD) codes to assign intent is unclear. The objective of this study was to assess the validity of documented ICD codes for firearm injury intent compared with chart review. METHODS: We performed a retrospective cohort study of children (<= 18 years) presenting to a tertiary care level 1 pediatric trauma center with firearm injuries between 2006 and 2017. We compared agreement between ICD codes and intent of injury determined by medical record review using Cohen κ. Intent for medical record review was assigned via the injury spectrum of intentionality (suicide attempt, accidental firing, mistaken target, firearm assault and unknown). For comparison with ICD codes, all medical record review cases marked as mistaken target were classified as accidental. A sensitivity analysis was then performed, coding all mistaken targets as assault. RESULTS: There were 122 cases identified over the study period. The most common intent by ICD code was assault (n = 80, 65.6%). Medical record review categorized most injuries as mistaken targets. When mistaken target was categorized as accidental, most firearm injuries were coded as accidental (n = 89, 72.9%) Similar results were seen when mistaken target was categorized as assault, most injuries were categorized as assault (n = 79, 79.5%) Cohen κ was 0.15 when mistaken targets were categorized as accident and 0.30 when categorized as assault. CONCLUSIONS: The ICD codes do not fully describe the intent of firearm injury. Revising ICD codes to account for mistaken targets could help to improve the validity of ICD codes for intent.