Trauma surgeons are not wasting money by saving the lives of gunshot victims, even if they live in violent neighborhoods that make them statistically likely to return with future injuries, a new study finds.
But hospitals could do a better job of interrupting cycles of trauma recidivism.
The study of Baltimore trauma patients published online in the Annals of Surgery compared long-term survival rates for victims of intentional injuries like gunshots and stabbings, versus those who were treated for injuries from accidental causes like car crashes. The study analyzed federal death data on 2,062 trauma patients who stayed more than 24 hours at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, between 1998 and 2000.
After controlling for variations in age, sex, race, insurance and other factors, the study found no significant difference in nine-year survival rates between accidental trauma patients and those injured by guns or knives.
“We have been asked … are we saving lives only to lose them in the near future to more violence?” said lead study author Dr. Adil Haider, a Johns Hopkins trauma surgeon. “This study shows that these patients live as long as anyone who has survived serious injury. Saving a life is always worth it and should never be seen as an exercise in futility.”