CHICAGO
04/20/2013 12:13 pm ET Updated Apr 22, 2013

Chicago Trauma Center Report: Distance From Treatment Impacts Gunshot Survival Rates

AP

A new report released Thursday lent credence to the call for increased trauma services for adults in the Chicago area -- specifically on the city's South Side.

The study, conducted by Dr. Marie Crandall, a Northwestern University professor in surgery and trauma care, analyzed data from 11,744 Chicago-area gunshot patients from the decade between 1999 and 2009, according to WBEZ.

The report, to be published in the American Journal of Public Health in June, found that 4,782 of those patients had been shot more than five miles from a trauma center and that those individuals had a lower rate of survival outcomes and were disproportionately black and uninsured. The analysis also specifically "identified the southeast side of the city as a relative trauma desert in Chicago’s regional trauma system" that was associated with increased gunshot wound-related fatalities.

As Chicago magazine's Whet Moser writes, Crandell's findings arrive on the heels of previous research that suggested variations in transport times for trauma patients did not significantly impact survival rates -- but that research was not specific to gunshot wounds in the Chicago area, as the new report is.

Activists have been battling with the University of Chicago in recent years as they've urged the school to offer expanded trauma care services at its new $700 million hospital. The activists argue that the hospital, which offers trauma services for children up to age 15 -- is ignoring the needs of adult South Side residents who are victims of gun violence and must be taken to facilities several miles away.

The matter has been the subject of dueling op-eds in the Chicago Maroon, the U of C's student paper, this week. On Tuesday, political science major Jake Smith urged activists calling for the increased trauma services to "take their fight to City Hall" and stop singling the school out. Akshaya Kannan, a public policy studies major and member of the Students for Health Equity (SHE) activist group, responded to Smith's column on Friday, noting the efforts activists have made to broaden their battle beyond only the university.

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