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View Full Version : What would the result of a bullet to the upper left chest be?



Kinzel
05-20-2016, 04:29 AM
EDIT3- I suppose it doesn't have to be that severe. I just looked up a gun to describe in the story, but it doesn't need to be that terrible. I was not aware of how severe the wound would be, that's why I came here. And he doesn't have to run around for 12 hours (it's really only 6 hours until he has medical attention, but he only runs for about 5 minutes to get away from the guy who shot him. He's sitting down the rest of the time). But if you guys can help me figure out a more plausible situation that would be great. Also I don't know if this would change anything but he DOES patch the wound up with some supplies he had on him. Maybe that would help with the possibility of a collapsed lung? Stop the air from coming in?
EDIT2- I think it's a .45 based off of the gun I described (I looked up a pic for reference and I believe it was a .45 auto or something)
EDIT- I forgot to mention, but there IS an exit wound

Hello everyone! This is my first post, so I do hope I don't screw it up.
So this character gets shot by a regular ol' handgun a few feet away. He is hit in the upper left side of his chest, a bit above his heart to be specific. He won't find medial attention for at least 6-12 hours, and is forced to run around for a few minutes post being shot. None of what I stated above can be changed, as it is necessary to the plot. What would the result be? Blood loss, severity, internal problems, hospital stay, treatment, recovery time, chance of death, really any information you can give me would be really helpful! For example, would he lose consciousness at any point? How will the waves of pain be? Will the pain get worse over time, or will it numb away?
Thanks!
P.S. If you wish to be extra helpful, a basic timeline of what will happen over a 12 hour period post being shot would be amazing!

robeiae
05-20-2016, 04:48 AM
Not a problem.

You want to post this thread here: http://absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?66-Story-Research-Experts-and-Interviewees-Wanted

Or maybe a helpful mod will see this thread and move it to the "Story Research" room.

Kinzel
05-20-2016, 08:43 PM
EDIT3- I suppose it doesn't have to be that severe. I just looked up a gun to describe in the story, but it doesn't need to be that terrible. I was not aware of how severe the wound would be, that's why I came here. And he doesn't have to run around for 12 hours (it's really only 6 hours until he has medical attention, but he only runs for about 5 minutes to get away from the guy who shot him. He's sitting down the rest of the time). But if you guys can help me figure out a more plausible situation that would be great. Also I don't know if this would change anything but he DOES patch the wound up with some supplies he had on him. Maybe that would help with the possibility of a collapsed lung? Stop the air from coming in?
EDIT2- I think it's a .45 based off of the gun I described (I looked up a pic for reference and I believe it was a .45 auto or something)
EDIT- I forgot to mention, but there IS an exit wound

Hello everyone! This is my first post, so I do hope I don't screw it up.
So this character gets shot by a regular ol' handgun a few feet away. He is hit in the upper left side of his chest, a bit above his heart to be specific. He won't find medial attention for at least 6-12 hours, and is forced to run around for a few minutes post being shot. None of what I stated above can be changed, as it is necessary to the plot. What would the result be? Blood loss, severity, internal problems, hospital stay, treatment, recovery time, chance of death, really any information you can give me would be really helpful! For example, would he lose consciousness at any point? How will the waves of pain be? Will the pain get worse over time, or will it numb away? As many replies from as many people possible would be great, so I could get different opinions and such.
Thanks!
P.S. If you wish to be extra helpful, a basic timeline of what will happen over a 12 hour period post being shot would be amazing!

Kinzel
05-20-2016, 08:44 PM
Thank you so much! New here, and still trying to figure out the details haha

William Haskins
05-20-2016, 08:50 PM
careful where you go. in some of these rooms you might find out everything you need to know about getting shot.

Katharine Tree
05-20-2016, 09:48 PM
I don't know much, but people who have been shot always say there's a ton of bruising around the wound later.

neandermagnon
05-20-2016, 09:51 PM
If it damages the lungs - or even the membrane around the lungs - he'll be in a really bad state as his lung will collapse. His other lung may be working but he'd be gasping for breath and unable to do anything much as he'd only be able to get enough oxygen to keep his basic functions going, not to do any exercise. Walking, even sitting up, would be a struggle with only one working lung.

A collapsed lung occurs when injury to the ribs/membrane around the lung cause air to get between the ribs and the lung. The lung is no longer able to inflate because lungs don't "suck" air in - normally, when the chest cavity expands, the pressure inside the lungs decreases, and air is drawn into the lungs because of this low pressure. If there's air getting in through the ribs due to the injury, when the chest cavity expands, more air goes in through the injury and none goes in through the nose/mouth, and the lung collapses. Incidentally (in case anyone needs to know this in the future) first aid treatment for this kind of wound involves putting something plastic like a credit card over the wound to stop more air being sucked into the chest cavity when the person tries to breathe. The other lung may still be functioning normally at this point, keeping the person alive. If both lungs collapse then it's time to call the crash team because they'll die within about 13 minutes as no air's getting into either lung.

If the bullet hits close to the shoulder and misses the lung and also misses the brachial artery, it'll hurt and probably bleed quite a lot but he'd be able to keep on going. I wouldn't have thought he'd be able to use his arm on that side all that much. But he would be able to run around for a bit and he'd be in a lot of pain and there'd be a big risk of infection. There's a good chance that infection won't set in in the 6-12 hours that he's waiting for medical help. This scenario fits in best with what you want. If the brachial artery is hit by the bullet, he'll bleed to death without medical attention.


For an interesting example, being into human evolution as I am, there is actually a case of a neanderthal man living for 2 weeks after being hit in the chest with some kind of stone-tipped weapon - the damage to his ribs is consistent with the pattern of injury that would cause a collapsed lung. Bone growth around the injury suggested he lived for 2 weeks after the injury, before finally dying, probably from the wound becoming infected. The skeleton was dated to around 50,000 years ago - neanderthals may have had some basic herbal medicine (there is archaeological evidence that supports this) but not much else in the way of medical care, as you'd expect from that time period. How long someone could live with a collapsed lung and no medical care beyond another giving them food and keeping them warm? Approximately 2 weeks. Without someone to keep him warm and fed he'd probably have died within a day. There are several cases like this in the fossil record - proof that neanderthals looked after the injured, elderly and vulnerable of their people. Also they're interesting examples of how long people can survive with some pretty awful injuries and no medical care.

CindyGirl
05-20-2016, 09:52 PM
I also don't know a great deal but I do know shock could be a concern as well as blood loss.

neandermagnon
05-20-2016, 10:00 PM
I also don't know a great deal but I do know shock could be a concern as well as blood loss.

Circulatory shock is caused by blood loss - they're one and the same thing. How quickly he'll be losing blood depends where the bullet goes. If a major blood vessel is hit, you'll get heavy internal and/or external bleeding and shock will be the result - which is life threatening - basically, bleeding to death. Lungs also will bleed a lot even if there's no damage to the pulmonary artery/vein because all your blood goes through your lungs*. But if the bullet's gone in near the shoulder and missed the heart, lungs and major blood vessels, then the bleeding won't necessarily be life threatening.

*double circulatory system: heart --> lungs --> heart --> rest of body

BoF
05-20-2016, 10:12 PM
careful where you go. in some of these rooms you might find out everything you need to know about getting shot.
With 65,583 members, I would think one or more have first hand experience getting shot or shooting someone else -- cops and military both active and inactive raise the odds.

noirdood
05-20-2016, 10:16 PM
The caliber of the bullet makes a huge difference. If it's a .22 short it would be a smaller problem than if it was a .45 caliber or 9mm. Those make super-serious wounds. The US Army learned that if you shot someone with a .38 caliber handgun that person was likely to perhaps keep coming at you. They switched to a .45 caliber and it would knock them down even if you hit the subject in an arm or leg.

William Haskins
05-20-2016, 10:16 PM
i was making a joke about drifting into the shadier areas of the forum. but yes.

Kinzel
05-20-2016, 10:39 PM
I think it's a .45 based off of the gun I described (I looked up a pic for reference and I believe it was a .45 auto or something)

neandermagnon
05-20-2016, 10:57 PM
The caliber of the bullet makes a huge difference. If it's a .22 short it would be a smaller problem than if it was a .45 caliber or 9mm. Those make super-serious wounds. The US Army learned that if you shot someone with a .38 caliber handgun that person was likely to perhaps keep coming at you. They switched to a .45 caliber and it would knock them down even if you hit the subject in an arm or leg.

Good point, because in my post, I was imagining something fairly small. The speed of bullet impact will also make a difference.

Williebee
05-20-2016, 11:01 PM
Mod Note: A merge occurred.

Cyia
05-20-2016, 11:02 PM
I think it's a .45 based off of the gun I described (I looked up a pic for reference and I believe it was a .45 auto or something)

How many shots does the shooter get off? What kind of ammo? Jacketed or not? Hollow point? Soft point? Aluminum, steel or brass? Tungsten?

CindyGirl
05-21-2016, 12:10 AM
[QUOTE=neandermagnon;9838430]Circulatory shock is caused by blood loss - they're one and the same thing.

Good to know. Thanks Neandermagnon!

elinor
05-22-2016, 05:27 AM
Depends on a lot of factors. Of course it's possible to get shot in the thigh and end up with a hole in your intestine. Bodies are funny.

Here's a random article about an old guy who discovered he'd been shot in the heart in a battle and somehow survived. Maybe it'll help. http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=117084&page=1

blacbird
05-22-2016, 05:40 AM
Frankly, a .45 through-and-through wound in "the upper left chest" sounds like a very serious wound, quite likely fatal. So, so you need your character to die, or to pull through. That's your choice, and within your control as a writer.

caw

King Neptune
05-22-2016, 06:11 PM
There's only one way to know for sure, but a .45 in the upper left side of the chest would greatly damage the shoulder blade when it exited. If it didn't hit a major blood vessel or the lung, then there would be a lot of bleeding and bone damage. But it would almost certainly hit a major vein or artery in that area (see linked image), and there is a very good chance that it would also hit the lung. https://www.cbhs.com.au/information/health-and-wellbeing/cardiovascular It would also depend on the build of the victim.

leifwright
05-22-2016, 06:20 PM
EDIT2- I think it's a .45 based off of the gun I described (I looked up a pic for reference and I believe it was a .45 auto or something)
EDIT- I forgot to mention, but there IS an exit wound

Hello everyone! This is my first post, so I do hope I don't screw it up.
So this character gets shot by a regular ol' handgun a few feet away. He is hit in the upper left side of his chest, a bit above his heart to be specific. He won't find medial attention for at least 6-12 hours, and is forced to run around for a few minutes post being shot. None of what I stated above can be changed, as it is necessary to the plot. What would the result be? Blood loss, severity, internal problems, hospital stay, treatment, recovery time, chance of death, really any information you can give me would be really helpful! For example, would he lose consciousness at any point? How will the waves of pain be? Will the pain get worse over time, or will it numb away?
Thanks!
P.S. If you wish to be extra helpful, a basic timeline of what will happen over a 12 hour period post being shot would be amazing!

There's a lot of important junk around that area other than the heart. Lungs are the first to come to mind, but the muscles that move your wings are also there.

Plus, there are several incredibly major arteries going through there, so you don't actually have to hit the heart to kill someone by shooting them there, especially with a .45.

I dunno if you've ever shot a .45, but it's a hand cannon. The bullet can literally go through the block of an engine if it's a mag.

That means the destruction would be pretty severe, even if the victim wasn't hit in the heart. The injuries would be at best debilitating. Over a 12-hour period, if he or she didn't die from blood loss, it would be a bona fide miracle.

Trebor1415
05-23-2016, 07:59 AM
Back up a step: Why does the wound need to be in that spot, of that severity, and with that caliber weapon?

With what you describe if the character is not instantly incapacitated, or does not bleed out fairly quickly, there's still no way he'll be up and running around for 12 hours.

An entry wound and an exit wound, in the upper left chest above the heart, is likely going to hit a lung. Your character is very likely going to die if untreated from various complications and from loss of blood if nothing else.

So, back it up a bit and tell us why it has to be those conditions. Maybe we can suggest something that still works with plot requirements but it least can be seen to be plausible. Right now you are just a step away from asking, "My character needs to be decapitated, but still running around for 12 hours. How can we do this?"

Kinzel
05-23-2016, 08:58 PM
I suppose it doesn't have to be that severe. I just looked up a gun to describe, but it doesn't need to be that terrible. I was not aware of how severe the wound would be, that's why I came here. And he doesn't have to run around for 12 hours (it's really only 6 hours until he has medical attention, but he only runs for about 5 minutes to get away from the guy who shot him. He's sitting down the rest of the time). But if you guys can help me figure out a more plausible situation that would be great.

King Neptune
05-23-2016, 10:18 PM
I suppose it doesn't have to be that severe. I just looked up a gun to describe, but it doesn't need to be that terrible. I was not aware of how severe the wound would be, that's why I came here. And he doesn't have to run around for 12 hours (it's really only 6 hours until he has medical attention, but he only runs for about 5 minutes to get away from the guy who shot him. He's sitting down the rest of the time). But if you guys can help me figure out a more plausible situation that would be great.

Have him get shot somewhere other than the upper chest, and use a somewhat less dangerous gun. A .45 will do damage if the bullet strikes, but a .32 (as one example) will not do as much damage. A .32 in the shoulder might break the bone, and it will cause bleeding, but it probably would not be life threatening. There are other parts of the body that could also be hit reasonably safely.

ColoradoGuy
05-24-2016, 11:27 PM
I've practiced ICU medicine for over 30 years and have seen many chest wounds, firearms and otherwise. As others have pointed out, you are proposing a very serious wound. That's a large caliber weapon fired from very close range, and the exit wound from the back of the chest would be huge. (The exit wound is generally much bigger than the entry wound.) The left lung would certainly collapse from a sucking pneumothorax. A lot of the lung would be in bits. This makes breathing very difficult. The left lung collapse also shifts the heart to the right, severely affecting heart function even if the heart is not directly damaged -- called a tension pneumothorax. And, as others have pointed out, besides the heart there are some major blood vessels in the region -- big veins, big arteries, and the aorta. Injury to these would likely make the pneumothorax a hemopneumothorax, an even worse thing.

All that being said, it could be survivable if bystanders acted immediately by covering the sucking hole in the chest with an occlusive dressing like plastic wrap, the bleeding was modest, and definitive medical care was prompt. But a survivor would be in an ICU for days at least and on a mechanical ventilator. I highly doubt he could get up, much less run around.