Chicago Hospital Finds Half Of Gunshot Victims Have Signs Of PTSD


Chicago's Cook County Hospital has one of the busiest trauma centers in the nation, treating about 2,000 patients a year for gunshots, stabbings and other violent injuries. When researchers started screening patients there for post-traumatic stress disorder in 2011, they found that 43 percent of the patients they examined – and more than half of gunshot-wound victims – had signs of PTSD, reports ProPublica. “We knew these people were going to have PTSD symptoms,” said Kimberly Joseph, a trauma surgeon at the hospital. “We didn't know it was going to be as extensive–This is a much more urgent problem than you think.”

Joseph proposed spending $200,000 a year to add staffers to screen all at-risk patients for PTSD and connect them with treatment. The taxpayer-subsidized hospital has an annual budget of roughly $450 million. Hospital administrators turned her down and suggested she look for outside funding. Now, social workers try to identify patients with the most severe PTSD symptoms, said Carol Reese, the trauma center's violence prevention coordinator and an Episcopal priest. “I’m not going to tell you we have everything we need in place right now, because we don’t,” Reese said. “We have a chaplain and a social worker and a couple of social work interns trying to see 5,000 people. We’re not staffed to do it.” A growing body of research shows that Americans with traumatic injuries develop PTSD at rates comparable to veterans of war.

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