Hospitals, taxpayers hit by gun violence
When a bullet strikes a Marylander, it often ricochets and hits hospitals and taxpayers in their wallets.
Statistics from the National Study Center for Trauma and the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services show that government programs ate the costs of caring for more than a third of the state's gunshot victims last year - to the tune of $4.6 million in 1998.
According to the statistics, 40 percent of Maryland's gunshot victims are listed as paying their bills out of their own pockets. But hospital administrators say much of that money remains uncollected, though exact figures are unavailable.
"When you think of handguns as a vector of disease, the health impact is enormous," said Dr. Georges Benjamin, secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
Not counting people who were …