Another series of violent gun deaths show our national gun culture to be in need of drastic re-evaluation. The loss of life is indeed tragic in each of these incidents, but the unacknowledged toll never seems to make it to the front of society’s consciousness.

In the Harborview Medical Center trauma unit, we save yet another gun victim, shot through the abdomen with injuries to numerous organs. This may show up on the news for a day or two but is quickly forgotten with the next event. This patient will undergo numerous surgeries during his initial hospitalization, entailing days or weeks of painful recovery. He will require weeks to months of additional therapies to regain the resumption of some level of previous functioning. Often the effects of gun violence do not stop there. These patients might endure derangement of their healing process and develop leaks or malforming organ healing that requires a lifetime of surgical interventions and therapies.

We don’t see these costs to patients, families and society when a gun injures someone. We see the deaths but not these life-altering injuries. It is time to see the total cost of gun violence and to demand measures to stop it.

Matthew Cazier, Seattle, RN, BSN, CCRN