Giffords’ Prognosis Looks Good, But Guarded

Three days after being shot, it looks like Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords will survive but her long term prognosis is still uncertain:

A top doctor at the hospital treating Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) for a gunshot wound to the head said the congresswoman’s condition has not changed and that her ability to fully recover is still uncertain.

“No, there is no change, and as frustrating as that may sound, that’s a good thing,” Dr. Michael Lemole, the chief of neurosurgery at the University Medical Center in Tucson, said on NBC’s “Today” show.

Doctors have remained cautiously optimistic of Giffords’s chances for a full recovery. Dr. Peter Rhee, a surgeon treating Giffords, said Tuesday that “her prognosis for survival is 100 percent.”
As for her recovery, Lemole said a “full range” of options remain on the table.

“Without speculating, I think she has the full range ahead of her,” he said. “I’ve seen people in this area make very little improvement and require constant care and I have seen other people … who have made remarkable recoveries, functional recoveries and have gone back to work.”

Lemole said a CAT scan of Giffords’s brain Tuesday morning showed no increase in swelling — a good sign — but he cautioned the swelling could still go up.

Giffords has been able to respond to simple commands but is still in and out of consciousness. Lemole said that Giffords has registered discomfort with her breathing tube, meaning she is in pain, but he said that’s good news because it implies “purposeful consciousness.”

There’s no way of telling, yet, how much, if any, brain damage Giffords may have suffered. Under the circumstances, though, this is all good news.

FILED UNDER: Congress, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Terrye says:

    I hope she comes back all the way. Poor lady.

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    I certainly wish Congresswoman Giffords the best and I hate to be unfeeling about this but of course her physicians are optimistic. Sitting members of Congress have an excellent healthcare plan; her doctors are sure her bills will be paid.

    Would they be equally optimistic if she were on Medicaid or had no insurance? There’s all sorts of studies suggesting that her prognosis would be substantially worse. She’d also be significantly less likely to receive follow-up care including speech, physicial, or occupational therapy and the need for those may be extensive after an injury of this sort.

  3. Michael says:

    Would they be equally optimistic if she were on Medicaid or had no insurance?

    Yes, because she’d still be a member of Congress. They’d give Angelia Jolie the best treatment possible even if she was uninsured and totally broke.

    People on Medicare/Medicaid don’t get less treatment just because they have worse insurance, they get less treatment because they’re already written off and forgotten by society.