'Beyond staggering': Vegas victims' $770M bill
VICTIMS of the Las Vegas shooting are facing mounting medical bills that could add up to in excess of $771 million (US$600 million), according to one expert who said the cost will be "beyond staggering."
Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation expert Ted Miller told Newsweek the Las Vegas tragedy will likely cost more than $771 million in terms of medical bills, mental healthcare, physical therapy, loss of income and police work following the crisis.
He said the "beyond staggering" figure is extremely difficult to calculate given the death toll could rise and many people will have ongoing medical care following the event.
"Indeed, many, many people who were not physically injured will be seeing a therapist, perhaps haunted by PTSD," Miller said.
Fifty-nine people including Stephen Paddock were killed and at least 527 injured during Sunday night's mass shooting that became the deadliest in recent US history.
Medical centres worked at capacity to process those injured, with trauma surgeons and nurses recounting the horror of "unusual" injuries created by the semiautomatic weapons and a seemingly endless flow of blood inside the emergency departments.
University Medical Centre trauma surgeon Jay Coates said he had "no idea who I operated on" during the night in which the clinic processed hundreds of patients.
"They were coming in so fast, we were taking care of bodies. We were just trying to keep people from dying. Every bed was full. We had people in the hallways, people outside and more people coming in."
Now, stories are emerging of victims faced with mounting bills who are starting to wonder how they are going to meet escalating costs.
Orange County man Jonathan Smith, 30, was hailed a hero after saving around 30 lives during the attack but was left with a bullet lodged in his neck.
His sister-in-law Tiffany Jones has started a Go Fund Me page saying the young father is unable to support his family because of the costs his medical bills will incur.
"Jonathan Smith is a loving father of 3 children, Jonathan Jr, Jayden Starr and Julian," she wrote online. "He is currently unable to support his family as a result of this horrible event as his body requires time to heal from such an injury.
"In addition to this, he will need to pay medical expenses - much of which will need to come out of pocket."
Canadian Hudson Mack is also wondering what his bill will be after his 21-year old son Sheldon was caught up during a birthday visit to the US done without travel insurance.
Sheldon has had his colon removed but is now out of intensive care and doctors may leave bullet fragments in his arm.
"We don't even know what our bill is right now but I'm sure it's already substantial and will keep going up," Hudson Mack told Canadian news site CBA.
"We've been told that we'll probably be here till the end of the week at least. They want to make sure that there is no risk of infection to the abdominal surgery," Hudson Mack said.
Gun violence is a costly epidemic in the US, with a recent study based on emergency department visits between 2006 and 2014 showing the cost per patient was between $6,755 (US$5,254) for entering the emergency department to around $123,291 (US$95,887) once an overnight stay is included.
The annual bill is around $3.6 billion (US$2.8 billion) in emergency department and inpatient charges.
Nearly $12 million (US$10 million) has been raised towards helping the victims in an online fundraiser organised by Las Vegas Clark County Commission Chair Steve Sisolak. Large donations have been made by local hotels and sports teams, with thousands of smaller contributions from sympathisers around the world.
"Funds will be used to provide relief and financial support to the victims and families of the horrific Las Vegas mass shooting," Sisolak said.
The means of distribution has not yet been announced but he said they would work with the National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC) to ensure funds go directly to victims.