UAB hires more surgeons to deal with growing number of gunshot wound and trauma victims

Published: Dec. 28, 2022 at 11:03 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 28, 2022 at 11:19 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - A UAB doctor says the hospital has added more surgeons to their trauma team to handle the increase in gunshot wound victims in recent years.

Most metropolitan areas are dealing with higher violent crime rates, including right here in Birmingham.

Dr. Jeffrey Kerby with UAB says the number of trauma patients has doubled over the last eight years. He’s the director of division of trauma and acute care surgery.

He’s calling it an epidemic.

Dr. Kerby says they saw around 1,300 patients this year and just eight years ago, they saw half of that, around 600 patients.

“It’s not atypical for us to take care of between 30-40 victims of trauma on a Saturday night, Friday or Saturday night, and we could have upwards of 10-12 gunshot wound victims on those days,” he explained.

That’s why they needed to hire additional surgeons, to keep up with the volume.

Dr. Kerby says eight years ago, they had nine faculty surgeons but now they’ve increased to 24. He says they also have more surgeons staying overnight.

“A lot of times, our trauma surgeon will be tied up in the operating room and somebody else may come in who needs emergent operative intervention,” he added. “So we’ve had to now increase that number at night to two, and for half the month, we have actually three surgeons in the hospital at all times.”

They’ve also increased the number of fellows in training. Dr. Kerby says at this point they’re fully staffed and can manage the patient volume effectively.

“If somebody gets here who comes in with a blood pressure and a pulse, doesn’t have a lethal head injury, survival rates are about 95%.”

He says more people need to be continuing the gun violence conversation so we can get to the root of the issue. Dr. Kerby says UAB is working with the Jefferson County Department of Health to develop hospital-based violence intervention programs to slow down the growing problem.

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