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Medical Care Solicitation by Criminals with Gunshot Wound Injuries: A Survey of Washington, DC, Jail Detainees

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Publication Date: January 2000

Publisher(s): Journal of Trauma

Author(s): Khalid R. Pitts, MPH; Roger Oen, MPH; David Hemenway, PhD; John P. May, MD, FACP


Special Collection: The Joyce Foundation

Topic: Health (Health services for low income people)
Human rights (Civil and political rights)
Social conditions (Safety and security)

Keywords: gun violence; non-fatal gunshot wounds ; emergency room; criminals

Type: Report

Coverage: Washington


The best estimates of nonfatal gunshot wounds in the United States come from hospital emergency room data and may miss, among other things, wounded individuals who do not seek medical treatment. Criminals may be those least likely to rely on professional care for their wounds.
This study provides evidence of whether medical care is solicited by criminals after gunshot wounds. In addition, the circumstances of the injury events are described. It found that in 92% of the incidents, respondents reported going to the hospital; one-third of those shot were hospitalized for more than 1 week. More than half (54%) had been hit in the head or torso, and 40% had a current disability attributable to the wound.
The report concludes that among these criminals, the vast majority reported that they obtained professional care for their gunshot wounds. Such evidence suggests that individuals previously thought unlikely to enter the medical care system after a firearm injury usually do so. Statistics on medically treated nonfatal gunshot wounds probably do not substantially underestimate the actual number of nonfatal shootings.