According to a new study, gunshot injuries account for $802 million in annual hospital charges nationally and about one-third of shooting victims don’t have insurance.
Published Jan. 1 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the study added that the $802 million does not include physician fees or follow-up care. In addition, the average initial cost is almost $24,000 in assault cases and about $30,000 for accidents, it said. Twenty-nine percent of patients lacked health insurance, and hospitals often bear the costs of treating uninsured patients, according to researchers Dr. Jeff Coben, director of Allegheny General Hospital’s Center for Violence and Injury Control, and Dr. Claudia Steiner of the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
The cost of gun violence is an issue for everyone because its financial costs, even if some victims are poor people or inner city residents, impact everyone, the researchers said.
The study involved an analysis of injuries from 1997, the most recent year with complete data. It revealed that gunshots were “the leading cause for uninsured hospital days in the country that year.”
Drs. Coben and Steiner looked at admission information from more than 1,000 hospitals in 22 states, including Pennsylvania, New York and California, that was compiled in 1997.
The researchers also found:
*There were an estimated 35,800 firearm-related hospital admissions nationwide in 1997, similar to what emergency room data predicted.
*Seventy-five percent of gunshot victims recovered and returned to their homes. Another seven percent died from their injuries and 12 percent went to other health facilities for rehabilitation or additional care.
*Eighty-six percent of patients were male, and about 60 percent were younger than 30.
*More than half the shootings occurred during assaults, about 30 percent were accidental and eight percent were self-inflicted. The cause of remaining incidents could not be determined.