Hospital Costs of Firearm Injuries

GVPedia Study Database

Hospital Costs of Firearm Injuries

Category: Costs|Journal: The Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery|Author: G Ackroyd, G Ordog, J Wasserberger|Year: 1995


Concurrent prospective study; data obtained by medical records review.


A county university teaching hospital designated a level I trauma center.


34,893 persons first hospitalized for firearm injuries at the King/Drew Medical Center in Los Angeles from January 1978 through December 1992.


The aggregate hospital cost for 34,893 firearm injuries, exclusive of professional fees, was $264,506,455.00, of which 96% was borne directly or indirectly by public funds. The charge for initial hospitalizations was $240,700,855.00. Mean and median initial charges per case were $6898.00 and $1,022.00, respectively (range, $944.00 to $296,232.00). The 5% of patients with charges greater than $100,000 accounted for 42% of all charges; 45% of all patient days were attributable to the 4% patients, with hospitalizations lasting more than 30 days. Three thousand thirty-one patients were rehospitalized a total of 4,578 times; charges for rehospitalization totaled $23,805,600.00. At least 55% (75% of identifiable weapon and missile injuries) of all charges resulted from handgun injuries. Treating the majority of patients on an outpatient basis and by using selective angiography for extremity wounds, a savings of more than $775,000,000.00 resulted. The potential cost of treating gunshot wounds at a single county hospital was more than $1 billion, or more than $100 million per year.


The costs for hospital treatment of firearm injuries are substantial. A lack of rehabilitation facilities forces prolonged acute hospital admissions in many cases. Avoiding prolonged hospitalization may be helpful in controlling these costs, but will be difficult to achieve. Ninety-six percent of the patients in this report had their costs of care covered by the government, because they had no primary insurance coverage. Primary prevention of firearm injuries, especially those caused by handguns, may be the most effective cost-control measure.

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