Increase in trauma cases seen in Houston during pandemic

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As we battle COVID-19, doctors are seeing a concerning trend.

Memorial Hermann is seeing more trauma patients. So far, the medical center location has seen 1,000 more trauma cases in the first part of 2020 compared to last year.

Some of the victims of stabbings and shootings.

One of those patients was a mother who was shot just last week by her boyfriend, according to police.

While she was transported to the hospital, her son did not survive.

"Just the other day, we saw a little three-year-old boy killed in a domestic violence situation," said Chief Art Acevedo, Houston Police Department.

The shooting followed a dispute between the mother and her boyfriend.

ABC13 examined preliminary crime report data for the city of Houston over an eight month period from January to August of 2019 and compared it to the same time period for 2020.

We found that aggravated assaults were up by 34% and murder was up by 33%.

"It's a combination of the COVID, the economic impact of COVID, some of the drug dealing that's going on out here and also the domestic violence," said Acevedo.

Memorial Hermann Dr. Samuel Prater says they're seeing the effects too. The increase in trauma cases from this year compared to last year is telling.

"That's just six months worth of data so far, right. The year's not even over," Dr. Samuel Prater, ER Physician, Memorial Hermann and UTHealth.

Dr. Prater says there are two main categories. There's blunt trauma, such as falls and car wrecks, which make up a majority of the cases. Then there's penetrating trauma, which includes shootings and stabbings.

"What we've seen is almost (a) 50 percent increase in the number of penetrating or the percentage of penetrating trauma," said Dr. Prater.

While there are likely a number of issues, Dr. Prater believes COVID-19 is having an impact.

"The negative effects on the economy are certainly trickling down to the just everyday individual and they're just stressful times so I think folks are more likely to respond negatively to these kinds of stresses, have a shorter fuse, be more likely to lash out," said Prater.

As we all deal with this stressful time, his advice is to be kind to one another and don't be afraid to ask for help.

"It's never a sign of weakness to ask for help and to reach out to your friends and family," said Dr. Prater.

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