Gun violence study conjures up painful past for its subjects

This segment originally aired Oct. 27 on VICE News Tonight on HBO.

Last year, there were more than 50,000 shootings in the United States, and more than 25 percent of those shootings were fatal. In Philadelphia, two trauma surgeons are launching a citywide study to test whether more shooting victims can be saved by doing less.

When a shooting victim is rushed to the hospital by ambulance, he’s usually treated with what’s called advanced life support, which includes IVs, breathing tubes, and defibrillators. But the two Temple University Hospital researchers believe that some of this intervention is doing more harm than good, and that if paramedics and EMTs switched to less-invasive techniques, more lives would be saved.

It’s a counterintuitive hypothesis, but past research suggests that more lives are saved with less intervention. But studying gunshot victims in Philadelphia means studying mostly young, black men. For some members of the community, the study’s design recalls a painful past when black citizens were used as the subjects of dangerous medical experiments.

VICE News’ Antonia Hylton went to Philadelphia to find out more.

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