CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a practicing trauma neurosurgeon and associate chief of neurosurgery at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, explains just how Rep. Gabrielle Giffords could have survived a direct gunshot wound to the head:
In an accompanying article on CNN, Gupta says that while statistics were not in Giffords's favor, she has so far beaten the odds:
While every patient and injury is different, on average – around 2/3 of patients with a gunshot wound (GSW) to the head don’t live long enough to make it to the hospital. Of the third that do make it, only 50% of those patients survive longer than 30 days. And of course, those numbers say nothing of long-term neurological function in the survivors. [...]
In medicine and surgery, doctors are reluctant to quote statistics, because every patient is a true individual –that includes Gabrielle Giffords. And, no doubt, Giffords is not “out of the woods” yet. But, “cautiously optimistic” sounds pretty good after an injury as devastating as this one.