PTSD Rampant, Undiagnosed in High-Crime US Cities

ProPublica: It's common among trauma center patients, but often untreated
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 4, 2014 12:34 PM CST
PTSD Rampant, Undiagnosed in High-Crime US Cities
In this 2012 file photo, a lone cross stands in a vacant lot in the Auburn-Gresham neighborhood on Chicago's South Side.   (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

Post traumatic stress disorder is generally associated with war veterans, but a ProPublica investigation finds that it is routinely going undiagnosed and thus untreated among ordinary Americans living in US cities. Consider that in 2011, researchers at Cook County Hospital in Chicago screened patients in its trauma center for PTSD and were floored to discover that 43% fit the bill. Think symptoms such as flashbacks, paranoia, nightmares, and social withdrawal. ProPublica looked at trauma centers in 22 cities with the highest murder rates and found that only one (in New Orleans) had routine screening in place for its patients.

While the military is making real progress on PTSD, "few similar efforts exist for civilian trauma victims," writes Lois Beckett. "Americans wounded in their own neighborhoods are not getting treatment for PTSD. They’re not even getting diagnosed." The problem usually comes down to money for public hospitals already strapped for cash. The American College of Surgeons is poised to recommend that trauma centers screen for PTSD and provide treatment as needed, but doctors say hospitals probably won't do so until it's mandatory and Medicaid helps foot the bill. Click for the full story. (Read more PTSD stories.)

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