Updated March 28 at 12:29am
health care

The high health cost of gun violence


PROVIDENCE – In addition to the 12 people killed, 59 people were reported injured in the shooting incident at the movie theater in Aurora, Colo., requiring emergency room care and, in many cases, continued in-patient hospital care to treat serious gunshot wounds.

To put that into perspective, here in Rhode Island, at the emergency rooms at Rhode Island Hospital, The Miriam Hospital and Hasbro Children’s Hospital, a total of 152 patients were treated in 2011 with gunshot wounds, according to Ellen Slingsby, spokeswoman for Lifespan.

Most of the victims were taken to Rhode Island Hospital, which serves as a Level One Trauma Center for the region. In 2011, there were 127 male patients and 25 female patients who were treated for gunshot wounds at the three Lifespan hospitals; the average male age was 29, the average female age was 31. In terms of outcomes, 76 of the patients were admitted for in-patient care, 66 were discharged, four were transferred, four died, one left against medical advice, and one “eloped” from the emergency room.

There were six patients treated for gunshot wounds at Landmark Medical Center’s emergency room in 2011, according to Landmark spokesman Bill Fischer.

Kent Hospital in Warwick was also asked to provide the number of gunshot wound patients treated in its emergency room in 2011, but did not provide statistics.

The cost for health care treatment of gunshots depends on the case, according to Slingsby. “Generally speaking, it could cost anywhere from a couple hundred dollars, to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the severity of the patient’s injury.”

Ironically, one of the guns used in the assault was a 12-gauge shotgun, a Remington 870, which is manufactured by the Freedom Group, one of the largest weapons, ammunition and protective gear manufacturers in the world that is owned by Cerberus Capital Management, the private equity firm in New York City.

Cerberus also owns Steward Health Care, the pending buyer of Landmark Medical Center and the Rehabilitation Hospital of Rhode Island and the owner of 11 hospitals in Massachusetts.

The Colorado shooter James Holmes reportedly purchased 350 shotgun shells over the Internet for the shotgun used in the assault, according to law enforcement officials.


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