Gun injuries cost U.S. $46 billion a year in lost work and medical care

From Reuters - October 4, 2017

(Reuters Health) - As Americans mourn the 59 people killed in Las Vegas on Sunday, a new study spotlights gunshot victims who survive.

A startling number of people, 78,000 a year, are treated in U.S. hospitals for firearm injuries, said lead author Dr. Faiz Gani in a phone interview.

The new report in Health Affairs calculates the price tag for firearm injuries: $2.8 billion a year in American hospital charges and $46 billion a year in lost work and medical care.

Theres a large clinical and financial burden here, and we really need to do something about it, said Gani, a postdoctoral research fellow at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland.

Scientific, research-driven public policy might prevent shooting massacres like this weeks at a Las Vegas country music festival, he said.

Government-funded research has led to lifesaving interventions to prevent other injuries. It inspired laws mandating automobile seat belts and air bags, for example. But Congress has essentially choked off federal funding for scientific studies of firearms-injury prevention since 1996.

Horrific mass killings receive the most media attention, but as can be seen by the numbers, they only represent a small portion of the total costs - human and medical - of gun injuries in the United States, said David Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center in Boston, who was not involved with the study.

Gani and colleagues analyzed a nationally representative sample of patients who arrived alive in U.S. hospital emergency departments with firearm-related injuries from 2006 through 2014.

More than 700,000 people sought care in emergency rooms for gunshot wounds during the nine years, they estimated.

Males were nine times more likely than females to be victims of gunshot injuries, and men ages 20 to 24 were at the highest risk, the study found.


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