Shooting and Stabbings Increased in Past Five Years
The San Francisco Examiner reports on the increase in violence from gunshot or stab wounds in patients admitted to SFGH:
The number of victims with gunshot or stab wounds admitted to San Francisco General Hospital has climbed over the last five years, with more than 440 patients either shot or knifed in 2007.
The percentage of patients who die as a result of the wounds, called "penetrating injuries," has dropped slightly, with trauma surgeons, doctors and nurses saving 79 percent of shooting victims last year, compared with 76 percent in 2003.
"Unfortunately, the sad part of having so much experience is you get really adept at what you do," said Dr. Rochelle Dicker, a trauma surgeon at the hospital.
"[And] we’re getting a lot of experience," she said................................
Victims come from community ‘war zone’
When a trauma victim bursts through the doors at San Francisco General Hospital, doctors and nurses swarm to the patient, not unlike what is portrayed in television and movie emergency room scenes, said Dr. Rochelle Dicker, a trauma surgeon at the center.
Patients with gunshot or stabbing wounds generally come from lower economic backgrounds, Dicker said, have lower education levels, are unemployed and may have a substance-abuse problem. Their communities, she said, are often a "war zone."
However, when patients enter The City’s public hospital, they are often in a docile state and very respectful of the staff, although some victims turn inward and exhibit symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, she said.
"Sometimes fear manifests itself as anger," said Dicker, who has been at the trauma center for eight years. "For the vast majority there’s a thankfulness that they got there alive."
Dicker also noted a "huge disparity" in how trauma patients fall along racial lines, saying that while The City’s black population has dropped to below 10 percent, blacks make up 60 percent of gunshot victims in The City. Hispanics make up the second-largest group.
Many young people become serious about changing their lives while in the hospital. Wraparound connects with young people at a teachable moment by working directly with survivors of violent injury.