In the immediate aftermath of last week’s attacks at the Boston Marathon, estimates calculated that about 170 people suffered injuries from the bombings. But according to the Boston Public Health Commission, that estimate should be revised to about 282 as more people are now coming forward to seek treatment in local hospitals.
Nick Martin, a spokesman for the health commission, explained to the Boston Globe that the injury count has sharply risen because many people initially delayed medical care. Although those people hoped their injuries would heal on their own, that hasn’t been the case, and they’re now checking themselves into one of the 27 hospitals in the area that are treating the bombing victims:
“One of the best examples is hearing issues,” Martin said. “People might have first thought their hearing problems would be temporary.” Instead, hearing loss or continuous ringing or buzzing in their ears remained. Others sought delayed care for minor shrapnel wounds. [...]
The number of injuries could continue to climb if more people seek treatment. And health officials are monitoring whether there was any significant increase in heart attacks or strokes that could have resulted from Marathon Monday. Studies suggest that stress-related heart emergencies increase in the first few weeks after a traumatic event such as an earthquake or terrorist attack.
There’s little doubt, however, that more injured victims would have died had they not received optimal treatment, on the scene and at hospitals, for wounds that led to the loss of copious amounts of blood.
Thanks to Boston’s large hospital network and well-equipped first responder teams, the city’s medical professionals were able to save an impressive number of lives over the past week — partly because the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have taught doctors how to effectively stem the flow of blood that results from these type of lower-extremity wounds. Thankfully, all of the people who have been treated for injuries have survived.
But as the injury toll rises, so does the cost burden resulting from the bombings. Initial estimates projected that the medical costs resulting from the Boston bombings would likely top $9 million. With about 100 more injured people to treat, however, that figure may be an underestimation. Some of the victims who underwent amputations — which can be especially expensive to treat, requiring an initial surgery, a prosthetic, hours of rehabilitation therapy, and often home remodeling — are already online fundraising to help pay for their medical bills. Insurance companies and hospital administrators could also do their part to make sure that victims can afford the treatment they need by eliminating or reducing some of their hospital costs.