News 4 Investigates: The Cost of Gun Violence -

News 4 Investigates: The Cost of Gun Violence

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by Steve Perron, News 4 Investigative Producer

For our News 4 Investigates exclusive report on the cost of gunshot violence in St. Louis, we worked with Barnes-Jewish (BJC) and St. Louis University (SLU) Hospitals. These are the only Level One and Level Two Trauma Centers in St. Louis city and as a result these are where gunshot victims are transported for treatment.

Many gunshot victims from outside the city of St. Louis are also transported to SLU and BJC for treatment.

Here are the numbers:

Our News 4 Investigative team began working with SLU and BJC last September for our examination of the cost of treating gunshot victims. Each hospital provided us with numbers for gunshot victims transported for treatment for as long as ten years ago. For the purpose of our report who chose to focus on one year, 2014.

The Cost:

Assigning a dollar amount, or a "cost" for treating gunshot victims is difficult and for the purposes of our investigation we used rough averages provided by the hospitals and our own calculations. The methodology we used is outlined below: (Note that we are combining the numbers provided by the two hospitals for one grand total.)

Gunshot victims for 2014:

-568 out-patient (relatively minor wounds)

-547 Level 1/Level 2 patients (serious wounds)

-Total patients seen in 2014: 1,115


The rough average cost for treating gunshot victims was given as $10,000 - $20,000. We split the difference and went with a figure of $15,000.

-Patients with severe, critical injuries can require extensive care, surgery, rehab, etc., and the costs can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

-For our report, we used a very conservative rough cost of $50,000 for serious, or level 1 and/or level 2 patients.

-568 out-patient at $15,000 = $8,520,000

-547 serious at $50,000 = $27,350,000

That brought us to our total cost of gun violence for 2014: $35,870,000

National cost of gun violence:

Washington University recently started a year-long initiative studying gun violence as a public health crisis. One of the directors of the study provided us with a study conducted by a public safety group, The Children's Safety Network.

Here is a link to CSN's computation of the national costs of gun violence

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