View Full Version : Bullet wounds and injured criminals

07-12-2006, 08:27 AM
I'm currently finishing a work of mine and would love some help. First off, a character of mine has been shot in the shoulder with a hand gun that would be used by a police officer. If the bullet were still in the wound and taken out surgically, how long would it most likely take to heal?

Also, what would be the protocol for a criminal (a thief to be specific) with said injury? Would he be cared for at a regular hospital under police watch? And when would he be likely to start legal processes such as trial, etc.?

07-12-2006, 12:55 PM
1. Depends on how much damage the bullet did. You're looking at a possible range of 3weeks(clean wound, clean surgury, maybe 80% healed/ 2mo 100%) to a complicated injury that never heals correctly (anywhere from not closing, infection, bone fragments, bullet fragments) or even amputation.
Bullet wounds are an easy wound because they can range in severity from mild, not even requiring a hospital visit, to lethal.

2. From what I understand he's in the hospital while he's in intensive care.(Shoulder wound there isn't going to be any intensive care) The second he can be moved they move him to the county jail. They usually have large medical facilities in county jails.
Without a lawyer intervening on his behalf the accused criminal would be transferred out of the infirmary as soon as possible, given a good wound, 1-2 days.
If he's really f'd up and has a lawyer, the lawyer can attend his bond hearing for him. But usually if he can walk or be wheeled he'll travel to the courthouse via shuttle/bus/paddy-wagon along with all the other prisoners to see the judge.

07-12-2006, 01:03 PM
I'd just like to point out an underestimation by gromhard.
American legal proceedings are a bit of a mystery to me (Wrong country)

However to say that a bullet in the shoulder wouldn't result in intensive care is misleading.

You say the bullet lodged in the shoulder, that means it most likely hit bone (assuming it went directly from the firearm to the body). Depending where in the shoulder it hit and what ammunition was used, there are a number of possibilities.
There are major blood vessels in the shoulder (that feed blood to the arms), if the bullet hit (or nicked) one of these, you are looking at serious blood loss.
If the cop was using frangible bullets, or hollow points, there is a fair chance the bullet broke up on impact with the bone or muscle. This would mean longer surgery to remove the fragments.

The point I'm making is that you have a pretty free reign to give the thief whatever recovery time you like.

Hope this helps.

Histry Nerd
07-12-2006, 06:29 PM
I'd pretty much agree with the others, with a couple of additions:

Depending on the location, there may be some pretty strict regulations on what kind of ammunition a police officer can carry. Hollowpoints may not be an option.

As far as taking a perp to the hospital, I think most city or county jails have an infirmary. I don't think they usually have the facilities to deal with major trauma, so you'd probably take the guy to the hospital under guard. Prisons (the larger state and federal facilities) probably have more sophisticated medical facilities, but I don't know if they have in-house ICUs. Anybody know for sure?

If the thief gets to the hospital on his own (before he's apprehended), I think most hospitals have a legal requirement to report gunshot wounds to the police, so it's likely he'd be busted before he could be released.

A final point: any time a police officer shoots someone, most departments conduct an investigation to be sure he followed proper procedures. In a major city, he's likely to draw media attention, especially for shooting a non-violent offender like your thief. Depending on the situation, the attention could range from sympathetic to the officer to downright hostile. May or may not be relevant to your plot, but I thought I'd mention it....


07-12-2006, 10:15 PM
Thank you all so much! You've been a huge help for me, you wouldn't believe! I don't really know much about bullet wounds or jail facilities, so it's really nice to be given some straight forward advice. Thank you all!

07-12-2006, 11:26 PM
As others have said, the beauty of a bullet wound is that you can have it do pretty much anything that you like. As an ICU doc I've seen many. The damage can be slight (passing only through muscle), to severe (say, catching one of the major vessels in the upper chest and maybe the top of the lung and destroying the major nerves to the arm). The former scenario would have the person in jail the next day, the latter could keep him/her in an ICU for weeks, either from the wound itself or complications arising from it. So do whatever your plot needs.

Kathie Freeman
07-14-2006, 07:25 PM
A shoulder wound can be life-threatening or even fatal. My husband (a security officer, not a criminal) was shot in the shoulder a few years ago and nearly bled to death before the ambulance got him to the hospital. Also, the bullet traveled through the left lung, causing collapse and internal bleeding. It ended up a couple of inches from the spine, (where it still is) so he could have ben paralyzed. It hit a nerve in his shoulder on the way in, and it still bothers him sometimes.

Soccer Mom
07-16-2006, 04:32 AM
A lot of this depends on the size of the population. A large urban area is going to have a jail with medical facilities. As soon as the defendant is not critical, he's going back to the med wing.

It's a different senario in many rural places. They don't have things like a med wing. The defendant is staying in the jail under guard unless he makes bond.

And yes. I have seen deaths from a simple wound to the shoulder. It all depends on where the person is shot, what type of weapon and ammunition are used, how far away they are shot from, etc. That's the beauty of fiction.
Make the scenario fit the result you want.