Saturday, December 5, 2015


In Canada we have a Public Health System but in the U.S. as we know do not so U.S. taxpayers are spending hundreds of millions of dollars each year to care for the victims of gun violence, according to a report from the Urban Institute released Friday.

About 80 percent of the cost of treating victims of gun violence in 2010 to today is borne in part by taxpayers, according to an analysis of hospital and insurance data by researchers at the nonpartisan think tank.
That means taxpayers paid for victims' care either through government programs like Medicaid or through publicly-funded programs that subsidize hospital care for those who don't have insurance and can’t afford to pay.

Hospitals in the U.S. spent $630 million in 2010 treating the victims of gun violence, everything from minor gunshot wounds to injuries that required days-long stays and public funds provided most of that money. The Medicaid costs of gun violence alone that year amounted to approximately $327 million.
Since 2010 It costs over $2 billion a year in hospital charges to treat victims of firearms-related injuries. This was the major finding of a study released today at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA).

The high figure underlines the need to treat gun violence in the U.S. as a Public Health Issue as well as a law enforcement challenge, according to physicians and advocacy groups contacted by The Crime Report.

“We are talking about huge numbers of people being hurt every year,” said Dr. Eric Fleegler, an emergency pediatric physician at Boston Children’s Hospital who has published extensive research on firearm injuries and mortality.    
“These are not just payment problems for an individual but also an incredible burden on our healthcare system."

Others asked by The Crime Report for comment on the study, said concern about rising health care costs, combined with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, has created an opportunity for transforming the nation’s approach to gun violence.
According to the APHA study, one out of every three patients hospitalized for gun injuries was uninsured.

Between 2000 and 2010, 275,939 individuals were victims of gunfire in the U.S., and received 1.7 million days of hospital charges which only included costs after the patient was admitted, according to the APHA study. The study does not cover emergency room costs, which is different than hospital charges, the total cost over the decade amounted to more than $18.9 billion.
The average cost of medical treatment for each hospitalization was $75,884.

Approximately 31,000 people die each year from gun-related injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
“This study has shown (that) despite a lot of policy and programs in past decade nothing has changed for the group most likely to be injured by firearms,” said Dr. Allareddy, who is also a physician at a Level 1 Trauma Center, which provides the highest level of surgical care to trauma patients.

The figures show why gun violence needs to be approached from a public health standpoint; said Robyn Thomas, Executive Director of the San Francisco-based Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 

Recently, the San Francisco advocacy group and the National Physicians Alliance released “Gun Safety & Public Health,” a set of guidelines and policy recommendations describing the public health approach to reducing gun violence. 

Recommendations included training doctors in gun safety issues as part of their professional training, so they can engage in discussions with patients about precautions such as properly storing firearms away from the reach of children.

The report noted that such training falls within the tradition of involving the medical community in public health crises as champions of injury prevention policies.

The Center will convene a meeting of experts this month in San Francisco, who have been involved in previous public health campaigns on issues such as motor vehicle safety, smoking and climate change in the hopes of using these earlier campaigns as a  model the medical community can use for preventing gun violence.

Thomas called on the American Medical Association to take a more high profile role on the issue of gun violence.
“If doctors truly could understand the impact of the problem to the health care system, it could change everything,” she said.

Some other research findings from the APHA study:
89 percent of firearm injury patients treated in hospitals were male and more than half (48 percent) were African American.
Over 60 percent of the injuries were caused by handgun “assault;”
22 percent of the injuries were listed as accidental;
8 percent were self-inflicted;
Almost 40 percent of patients were aged 20-30.
Adding more context to the issue of rising costs, a recent report by The Urban Institute, a non-partisan think tank, found that over 80 percent of gun violence costs are paid for  by taxpayers through Medicaid or other public-funded programs that subsidize hospital care.

Benjamin Hayes, former chief of the law enforcement branch at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms’ National Tracing Center, said it’s important for the law enforcement community to see health professionals as allies in curbing gun violence.

“Most people don’t associate medical costs with gunshots,” said Hayes. From Jan 2015 to date 2015, 355 mass shootings have taken place.
Since the Vietnam War, about 67,000 Americans have died in combat.
In that same time frame, about 1.5 million have died in the US after being shot by a gun.

Gun deaths in this country are just as common as car crashes. Guns kill more people than AIDS, war, illegal drug overdoses, and terrorism combined. And when you look back over the entire history of the country stretching back to the Revolutionary War you learn that guns have killed more Americans than all the wars we've fought in combined.

About 1.17 million people have died in combat since the founding of the US. About 1.49 million have died of a gunshot since Bobby Kennedy was shot and killed in 1968, which is about as far back as we could find good data.
The two World Wars and the Civil War were devastating. More than 400,000 Americans died in world War Two, but in the past 47 years, guns have killed more people than every war going back to the Revolutionary War, when battles were fought with muskets and the Second Amendment didn't exist!

During the Obama administration alone, guns have killed more Americans than World War One did. Most of these gun deaths are suicides. followed by homicides and then accidental deaths. There are about 11,000 firearm homicides each year, which is a big chunk of the approximately 33,000 annual gun deaths in the US.
A IMO from Sir Richard…

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