The woman was shot once in the thigh with a small entry wound but no exit wound—a stray bullet that struck her while she was walking down the street. In the trauma bay, the surgeons taped a paper clip over the entry wound so they could identify that spot on the X-ray. Goldberg wheeled the monitor over to show me the X-ray image: paper clip and bullet. “Very small,” she said, pointing to the slug, “like a .22.” As so many other patients do, the patient asked the trauma surgeons if they were going to take the bullet out, and the surgeons explained that they fix what the bullet injures, they don’t fix the bullet.
They left the wound open to prevent infection and put a dressing on it. “We’ll probably send her home tonight,” Goldberg said. “Isn’t that awful?”
She meant it as a strictly human thing. There’s no medical reason for a patient to be in a hospital longer than necessary. The point was the ridiculousness of the situation. A woman gets shot through no fault of her own, she comes to the hospital scared, and if she’s OK, Goldberg says, “It’s like, here, take a little Band-Aid.” The woman goes home, and for everyone else in the city, it’s as though the shooting never happened. It changes no policy. It motivates no law. In a perverse way, the more efficiently Goldberg does her job inside the hospital, the more invisible gun violence becomes everywhere else.
— Jason Fagone, “What Bullets Do to Bodies”