SAN FRANCISCO, March 26 (Xinhua) -- Gun violence resulted in initial hospitalization costs of more than 6.6 billion dollars in the United States from 2006 through 2014, an average of 734.6 million dollars per year.
Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine analyzed data from 267,265 patients who were admitted for firearm-related injuries during the nine-year period and noted that the 6.6 billion dollars figure is only a fraction of the total hospital costs incurred by gunshot wounds.
"There is a high cost for these injuries, especially because they are preventable," said Sarabeth Spitzer, a medical student at Stanford and the lead author of a study published online in the American Journal of Public Health.
The study included hospitalization costs of shooting injuries that were self-inflicted, unintentional or due to assault.
The Stanford team used publicly available data in the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, the largest database in the United States, which houses information from about 8 million hospital discharges each year, picked patients who were admitted for firearm-related injuries and analyzed the severity of their wounds, the cost of their care, where they were hospitalized and how they paid for the hospitalizations.
Among their findings were that the government bears about 40 percent of the total costs, that patients were overwhelmingly male, and that there was a correlation between their insurance status and how they sustained their injuries.
For example, shootings of young and poor individuals insured by Medicaid, a social health care program for families and individuals with limited resources, comprised two-thirds of firearm injuries, and they were most often victims of assault; in contrast, patients insured by Medicare, a social insurance program administered by the U.S. federal government for people aged 65 and older, were more likely to suffer from self-inflicted gunshot wounds.
The study captures costs for a very limited experience because the costs of firearm injuries continue in many different ways, Spitzer was quoted as saying in a news release from Stanford Medicine News Center. "There's a cost if you're readmitted, there's long-term rehab, and a lot of these patients end up needing long-term health care."