Hidden Toll of Chicago’s Gun Violence: $447 Million in Hospital Bills Over Seven Year

by Thinker

Jennifer Smith Richards, Annie Sweeney and Jason MeisnerContact ReportersChicago Tribune

July 2017

The charges started racking up the moment Annette Johnson arrived at Mount Sinai Hospital with a gunshot wound to her left forearm. Doctors sliced open Johnson’s arm and installed a $500 metal plate to shore up her shattered ulna, securing it with numerous bone screws that cost $246 apiece. There were morphine drips to quell pain, tetanus shots to prevent infection, blood screens and anesthesia. Two years earlier in a different part of the city, Leo Leyva arrived at a North Side hospital with a gunshot wound to his back. His last memory before going under anesthesia was a nurse telling him they were going to take good care of him and to count up to 10.

As the 18-year-old drifted off, the emergency room team at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center went to work to save his life, starting IV lines and X-raying his chest and abdomen before performing an emergency surgery to remove the bullet and repair the damage. For both Johnson and Leyva, just two of the thousands of gunshot victims in Chicago every year, the first hours and days of their hospital treatment were only the start of what would be costly recoveries that continue to this day. Still, the bills for their initial treatment were staggering.

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In his first 35 minutes at the hospital, Leyva had racked up $21,521 in charges, and by the time he was released three weeks later the bill totaled more than $157,000. For Johnson, who spent barely 24 hours at Mount Sinai, the hospital charges approached $27,000. An unprecedented analysis of state data by the Tribune reveals that:

Chicago gun measures fail as murder rate skyrockets

Windy City has one of the most restrictive gun laws in the country but its murder rate has skyrocketed. More gun control doesn’t appear to be teh answer. Tucker takes on the executive director of Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.

So, what is Chicago doing to fix the problem?

Make more laws that don’t work!


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