UPDATE: Hospital costs for those with gun injuries approach $100,000 per patient
By Emma Court
The analysis likely underestimates the costs because it couldn't follow patients over time, its authors concede
Gun-related injuries result in nearly $3 billion in hospital costs each year in the U.S., according to a new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Health Affairs.
Patients were charged about $5,000 on average for emergency-department services and nearly $96,000 on average for inpatient services, according to the study (http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/36/10/1729.full#xref-ref-16-1), which focused on patients who were alive when they arrived to the emergency room.
The study was released in the wake of a gun massacre at an outdoor country-music concert in Las Vegas, one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history. (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/these-are-the-10-deadliest-mass-shootings-in-us-history-2017-10-02)
The analysis likely underestimates the cost of these injuries, its authors said, because it did not attempt to follow patients over time and thus couldn't track factors like readmissions, rehabilitation and lost income.
"Although firearm-related injuries are a major public-health concern (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/these-are-the-10-deadliest-mass-shootings-in-us-history-2017-10-02), with significant financial consequences, research in this area has been limited as a result of a lack of funding," the authors said, noting that while gun violence accounts for around as many deaths as sepsis infection, funding for gun-violence research equates to just 0.7% of the funding for sepsis research. (The 1996 Dickey Amendment, named for the late Arkansas Republican congressman Jay Dickey (http://www.npr.org/2017/04/25/525604434/jay-dickey-arkansas-congressman-who-blocked-gun-research-dies-at-77), bars the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from funding gun research.)
That research is especially necessary, the authors said, because "only through the adoption of an evidence-based public-health approach can the resulting substantial medical and financial burden be reduced."