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July 10, 2013
Loyola Trauma Surgeon Urges a Different Approach to Stop Gun Violence
12 Killed, 75 Injured during 4th of July Weekend
MAYWOOD, Ill. - More than 70 Chicagoans were injured and 12 died due to gun violence during the extended 4th of July weekend compared to two killed and seven injured due to fireworks.
“I predicted more injuries from firearms rather than fireworks this 4th of July and I am sorry to report that I was correct,” said Thomas Esposito, MD, MPH, chief of the Division of Trauma, Surgical Critical Care and Burns in the Department of Surgery at Loyola University Medical Center. “We have effectively educated people about the dangers of fireworks and curbed injury. Now we need to do the same for gun violence."
More than 40 percent of the injuries occurred in the Austin and Garfield Park areas of Chicago, less than 5 miles from Maywood where Esposito is a trauma surgeon.
“Not only innocent bystanders but very young children are being killed by gunfire, which is senseless and heartbreaking,” said Esposito, who heads the only Level I Trauma Center in Illinois that is accredited by the American College of Surgeons.
Esposito considers gun violence a public health epidemic and offers a public health approach.
“Gun violence is a complex, multifaceted problem and requires a complex, multifaceted strategy,” said the trauma surgeon, who also has earned a master’s degree in public health. “How did we decrease cigarette smoking? We raised the price of cigarettes exorbitantly, restricted access and usage, increased education, reduced advertising and promotion, restricted access by children and created a social stigma to smoking."
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood appointed Esposito to a two-year term on the National Emergency Medical Services Advisory Council (NEMSAC) in 2012.
Alarming Gun Violence Statistics
- The average hospital cost for an finger or limb amputation from fireworks is $15,600 while for a gunshot wound, it’s $540,000.
- Handguns (rather than rifles or other types of guns) account for 80 percent of gun violence.
- More than 50 percent of shootings have involved alcohol, consumed either by the victim or shooter or both.
- Of deaths from gunfire in the home, 50 percent of victims knew their shooter, with only 20 percent related to home invasions and only 1 percent ruled justifiable homicides, i.e. in self defense.
“People have snuffed out their cigarettes; it is now time to snuff out gun violence rather than continue to have it snuff us out,” Esposito said.
Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.