Medical Improvements in Trauma Care Lead to Reduction in Homicide Rate
Advances in emergency care over the last several decades have helped lower the fatality rate in assault cases by 70%, thus lowering the nationwide homicide rate, according to a new study. The AP/Washington Post reports that researchers from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Harvard University analyzed crime data from 1960 to 1999 and found that rates of death from gun and knife assaults fell 2.5% each year and 3.5% to 4% annually for other types of assault, including poisoning or arson. The study, which was published in the May issue of the journal Homicide Studies, found that in 1960, police recorded 9,110 homicides and 154,320 aggravated assaults, with just under 6% of all assaults ending in death. In 1999, police recorded 15,522 homicides and 911,740 assaults, with 1.67% of assaults ending in death. Anthony Harris, the study's leader and a professor of sociology at UMass-Amherst, said, "People who would have ended up in morgues 20 years ago are now simply treated and released by a hospital." Researchers attributed the lower death rate to several factors, including the development of 911 services, quicker stabilization and transfer of trauma patients to hospitals, better training for emergency medical technicians and a greater number of hospitals and trauma centers, specifically in rural areas (Tynan, AP/Washington Post, 8/12).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.