Do Criminals Go To The Hospital When They Are Shot?

Publication Date: September 2002

Publisher: Joyce Foundation

Author(s): David Hemenway, PhD; J.P. May

Research Area: Health; Justice

Keywords: criminals; gunshot wounds; non-fatal gunshots

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


This paper publishes findings of a survey of inmates being booked into five jails across the U.S. It was administered by in-house health care staff. It sought to determine whether criminals go to the hospital when they are shot. Such information is needed to check on the accuracy of using hospital emergency room data to estimate non-fatal gunshot wounds.

It found that more than 90% of over 300 criminals who had been wounded sometime before their incarceration reported going to a hospital for treatment after being shot. These results are consistent with previous findings from one jail.

The paper concludes that jail inmates who had previously been shot were likely to have been treated in a hospital. This limited finding is consistent with the proposition that hospital/emergency department data may miss only a small percentage of gunshot wounds to criminals.