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UCSD Health finds five-time increase in severe injuries from border wall falls

Severe injuries and deaths from falls over the U.S.-Mexico border wall have skyrocketed in recent years.

SAN DIEGO — Severe injuries and deaths from falling over the U.S. Mexico border wall have skyrocketed in recent years.

A patient was rushed to the hospital Monday from Otay Mesa.

Doctors at UC San Diego Health started noticing more patients coming in with serious injuries from border wall falls. They believe it's linked to a height increase of the wall.

"Often times the bones had to be temporarily placed multiple times to go back to the operating room, lengthening the hospital stay. We were seeing more severe injury, brain injury, facial fractures, things requiring the ICU as well," said Dr. Amy Liepert, the Medical Director of Acute Care Surgery at UC San Diego Health.

Dr. Liepert and several other UCSD doctors began looking into incidents that happened from 2016 through 2021.

"Around 2019 there was a big change," she said. "We found in that three years before period, we had 67 patients and the three years after period, 375 patients."

That's a five-time increase in severe injuries. These patients require extensive care and long hospital stays.

"The hospital was a bit overwhelmed during the COVID pandemic and in order to have capacity we actually opened up an extra hospital ward for overflow of those patients," she said.

She said fatalities have risen over the past few years. UCSD didn't have any deaths from border wall falls before 2019 but saw 16 since then. Doctors are linking the increase to the border wall's increased height. The wall is now up to 30 feet tall.

"We have seen the whole gamut. There are children falling off the wall. We have seen pregnant women fall," she said.

Doctors hope this study will be considered when future policies are made related to the border wall.

WATCH RELATED: The unforeseen consequences of a higher border wall (April 2022)

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