Every year more than 130,000 Americans are rolled into a hospital with a gunshot wound. Most will survive, but as CBS News Correspondent Jim Stewart reports, the care they require doesn't come cheap.
A study released Tuesday by the American Medical Association (AMA) puts the cost of treating a gunshot wound to the chest at around $17,000.
Figure in rehabilitation costs, and the annual total for treating all gunshot patients swells to $2.3 billion - and the study says nearly half of that is paid for by the U.S. taxpayer.
The government gets the bill because the majority of people who end up shot or shooting themselves have no insurance. Poor people, researchers find, also tend to suffer the most serious wounds.
Study co-author Jens Ludwig explains, "two percent of all gunshot injuries result in a spinal cord injury, and they account for about half of all medical costs."
Not much of this information was surprising to doctors, but it's sure catching the attention of several cities that are suing the gun industry. They want to be reimbursed for the costs of treating gunshot victims. But until now, weren't exactly sure how much to ask for. Now they have a number: about $1.1 billion a year in taxpayer funds.
Copyright 1999 CBS. All rights reserved.
CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff