To Scale back Unnecessary Deaths, Have a look at Faces, Not Numbers

To Reduce Needless Deaths, Look at Faces, Not Numbers

In Cleveland, emergency medical services are a constant witness to the loss or maiming of young life for reasons most consider avoidable. For example, on the weekend of June 22, 2020, 6 people were shot dead. At the end of July, 6 shootings and 4 stab wounds occurred within 24 hours. On August 8, another three. Two days later, two more.

One doctor, a certified nephrologist, who saw these young people die is Ashwini Sehgal. During his career at MetroHealth Medical Center, he has medically attended to the needs of at least a dozen shooting victims and more than 2 dozen overdose victims.

Dr. Sehgal is also co-director of the Center for Health Disparity Reduction at Case Western University in Cleveland. He was concerned about the way the media is discussing statistical deaths from firearms, drug overdoses, and motor vehicle accidents, as this is inconsistent with what he sees in front of him. He said he saw young people cut off in their prime. In studies he reads discussions about statistics.

“Like most people, I have trouble grasping the effects of both the large absolute number of deaths and the low annual death rate. I've decided to look at these tragedies differently, ”he said in an interview with Medical Daily.

Dr. Sehgal has written opinion and magazine articles discussing the importance of correcting the language used to describe these issues. In addition to suppressing misinformation, it is important to educate people, based on their demographics and other factors, how likely they are to be a victim of an overdose, fatal gun accident, or motor vehicle accident.

Easier ways to share important numbers

Study numbers are often communicated through annual reports, clearing the emotions of thousands of heartbreaking cases. Articles will result in high numbers like the 40,000 firearm deaths from last year, or with death rates like 20 overdose deaths per year per 100,000 people.

Instead of looking back at thousands of accumulated events, Dr. Sehgal in a study that has not yet been peer-reviewed, with a model of 100,000 people and actual results up front – any cause of death or cause of death from a firearm. The model was divided into five-year groups. Once these values ​​were obtained for each group, the same procedure was followed for overdose and death in motor vehicles. Then followed the breakdown by race, ethnicity, and gender for each state. Overall, people in this country had a 0.93% chance of dying from a gunshot, 1.52% of a drug overdose, or 0.92% of a motor vehicle accident in 2018. For a black man, the firearms risk increased to 1 in 38 – 2.61% lifetime risk. (Asian women, 0.08% risk.) White men had a 2.13% risk from overdose. If a white male lived in West Virginia, that risk increased to 3.54%. In Mississippi, the lifetime risk of dying from a drug overdose (1 in 59 people) was exceeded by dying in a car accident (1 in 57).

He encourages researchers to give every statistic a face. In an article in STAT News, Dr. Sehgal about going to high school and imagining the severity of these ultimate events. "As I walked through school, I realized that one child on every floor of the school is likely to die from a gunshot and another from a drug overdose in the years to come," wrote Dr. Sehgal. The breakdown here: 1 in 100 children will die from a gunshot and 1 in 70 children will die from overdoses if the current death rate persists.

Dr. Sehgal also used official death certificate data to calculate the likelihood that a child would die of a gun or drug overdose in their lifetime. By looking at individual lifetimes rather than generalizing events, they can relate to these problems by seeing people instead of statistics.

Look at numbers, translate them into faces

The risk of these tragic incidents occurring depends on several factors, such as: B. Location, age and demographics. In a world where situations change quickly, it's interesting to analyze these numbers and see where peaks occur. For example, Dr. Sehgal, in many of his studies, notes how black men are more likely to be affected by these problems throughout their lives, and mentions that 1 in 40 will die from a shot.

"The wide variation in gun deaths and overdose deaths by race, sex, state, and country, and the significant changes over time, show that high deaths from these two sources are not inevitable," said Dr. Sehgal.

Dr. Sehgal said policymakers and healthcare providers have a duty to review these numbers and make changes. He believes that politics and legislation are necessary to protect human lives who are clearly at stake.

Especially in times of social advocacy and political unrest, it is of crucial importance for the legislature to understand how these incidents flow out and out as a result of current events. Dr. Sehgal believes elected officials have a responsibility to make changes to save lives and protect children.

He noted that lifetime risk calculations assume that future mortality rates would match current rates, but need not be.

"We should take sensible steps now to help our children avoid the preventable tragedies of gun deaths and overdoses," said Dr. Sehgal.

Lara Becker is an intern at Medical Daily and a senior at the College of New Jersey. She is studying journalism / professional writing and communication studies.


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