womens timberland snow boots Baltimore emergency rooms struggle to care for severely wounded patients
Just after midnight, medics rushed the gunshot victim into the last available trauma bay, and nurses and doctors swarmed. They needed to stop the bleeding.
As one staffer cut off the patient’s clothes that night this summer, Dr. Jason D. Pasley began a careful search of the man’s body for bullet wounds. The holes can be as small as a pencil eraser, and the team rolled the man to check everywhere behind knees, in armpits, along the hairline. One by one, Pasley called out what he found a hole in the back, in the buttocks, in the leg until he got to six.
Surgeons call it “bullet hole math.” An even number indicates that bullets might have gone through. An odd number raises the likelihood that a bullet may still be in the body.
“If the math doesn’t add up, you are missing something,” said Pasley, a long serving trauma surgeon at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in downtown Baltimore. “The more you’re shot, the more likely you are to hit something serious, the more likely you are to die.”
The gruesome ritual has become more common in hospitals nationwide. At Shock Trauma that week, it was the seventh night in a row doctors had had to rely on the crude calculus.
Emergency rooms are struggling to save gunshot victims arriving in worse shape than ever before, with more bullet wounds, increasingly shot in the head. Even as advancements in trauma care have saved countless lives, victims of gun violence have seen their chances of survival drop, exacting a toll on victims’ families, medical personnel and taxpayers.
More than $80 million has been spent at Baltimore hospitals caring for patients shot in gun crimes in the past five years. During that time, the number of cases doubled and the annual price tag soared nearly 30 percent. Most of the medical costs are now covered by Medicaid, the federal state health insurance program for the poor.