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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Colorado: Gunshot Wounds are More Lethal than They Were a Decade Ago

According to a new study co-authored by Dr. Angela Sauaia, professor of public health, medicine and surgery at the Colorado School of Public Health: University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus, gunshot victims are more likely to die than they were a decade ago.

Dr. Angela Sauaia

[Photo: Dr. Angela Sauaia]

Dr. Sauaia and her colleagues examined gun-related violence between 2000 and 2013 at Denver Health Medical Center, the city’s largest trauma center.

According to Dr. Sauaia, this study provides an objective measure of something trauma surgeons across the country already know—firearms used in U.S. communities are becoming more harmful and more lethal.

According to the study, between 2000 and 2013 more than 1,680 people were treated for gun-related wounds at Denver Health, with the number of hospitalizations steady year-to-year. However, death rates steadily climbed at an average rate of 6 percent every two-year period. The rising death rates can be attributed to an increase in the size and number of wounds, Dr. Sauaia explained.

Not only are gunshot wounds larger than they used to be, but they’re more numerous, too. Ten years ago, a patient coming in with 6 or 7 gunshot wounds would be a rather surprising occurrence; today, it’s common, Dr. Sauaia said.

The research compared the data with other accidents: motor vehicle, pedestrian, bicycle, and others, which are all declining. Looking at findings published in JAMA, it’s a clear trend. Indeed, the medical community is able to save more lives, however, this is not the case with gun deaths.

What’s important to remember, she reminded, is that technological advancement for cars is aimed to make them continually safer – same with bicycles, helmets, planes, and most everything else. But, with firearms, it’s the exact opposite. Technology is advanced to make them more likely to injure and kill.

In 2013 alone, the CDC estimated that nearly 34,000 Americans died from gunshot wounds. Dr. Sauaia advocates a call to action for the public health community to pressure the end of the congressional ban on gun-related research.

→ Full story here.