Doctors Respond to Gun Violence

doctors gunsEveryday Health- by Jaimie Dalessio

There have been at least 1,318 gun deaths in the United States since the horrific shootings of children at Sandy Hook Elementary on Dec. 14. And that number — tallied bySlate and @GunDeaths as part of an interactive, crowd-sourced project — is probably not complete.

Fueled by mass shootings including the Sandy Hook tragedy and the deadly shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Co., last July, the gun violence debate has once again come to the public health forefront.

The doctors who treat gun violence victims in emergency rooms around the country — from single-victim shootings to mass killings — have responded to these tragedies in different ways. For Comilla Sasson, MD, an attending physician at University of Colorado Hospital who treated victims the night of the movie theater shooting in Aurora, preventing gun deaths has become a personal crusade.

Dr. Sasson wasn’t supposed to work that Thursday July night, but a colleague called in sick. Sasson started her shift at 11 p.m., and what began as a typical busy, crowded night in the emergency department took a turn when the staff received a call about the shooting.

“We expected one to two, maybe three victims and had 23 victims that came in within an hour to two hours of the event,” Sasson says. One patient was pronounced dead upon arriving at the hospital. The other 22 survived.

“I’m sure anyone who has lived through something like never thinks it’s going to be your ER, or your community, or your school,” Sasson says. “I think these last few months specifically have really reignited a lot of that flame in terms of realizing, as doctors, we need to go out and advocate for our patients and our communities.”

What Doctors Can Do About Gun Safety

This month, in response to Sandy Hook, President Obama unveiled a plan for reducing gun violence across the country in which he affirmed the role physicians must play — the role Sasson describes — in protecting the safety of their patients and the broader community.

The plan clarifies that no law prevents health care providers from warning the authorities about potential threats of violence. Additionally, it states that doctors and health care providers have a right to ask patients about firearms and safe gun storage. (Some have mistakenly claimed that the Affordable Care Act prohibits doctors from asking their patients about guns and gun safety, according to the full text of the president’s plan.)

Sasson regularly asks patients if they have a gun at home.

“That not only affects their personal safety if they are suicidal but also, if they are homicidal, it could affect their entire community or their family,” Dr. Sasson told MedPage Today in the video above.

Shari Barkin, MD, chief of general pediatrics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., co-authored a 2008 study that examined gun interventions in routine office visit.

“We found that if we talked about firearm safety the way we often talk about storing medicine safely, taking things out of the hands of children that shouldn’t be in the hands of children, we were able to improve the safe storage of firearms by twice as much,” Dr. Barkin told MedPage Today in the video. “That is significant.”

“The reality is that there are guns in many homes and that is not something that we as physicians may be able to change or should we change,” Edward Barksdale, MD, chief of pediatric surgery at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, told MedPage Today in the video. Dr. Barksdale is part of a task force on gun violence organized by Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson. “But we definitely need to change the way guns are viewed in the home. A gun is something that requires great responsibility. Families should educate about not touching guns … We need increased recognition that a gun is dangerous and not only in the home, it can be taken from the home. And that’s really our first obligation as physicians.”

A number of physician groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American College of Physicians, have released statements in support the president’s plan and the steps doctors can take to reduce gun violence.

5 thoughts on “Doctors Respond to Gun Violence

  1. Guns aren’t violence and doctors aren’t intelligence.Why doesn’t Pierce Morgan mention the genocide going on world wide,brought on by his beloved U.N?Peace keepers murdering inocent civilians are not peace keepers at all.Yet we should be so entranced by zionist controlled networks that we support the death of the innocents in terrorist countries because it somehow protects our own.Under this pretense we should have forfeited the rights of our armed forces centuries ago to bear arms under the premise that Pierce and his well intended bosses in the U.K. know what is best for us.Particularily when they are well armed while we have none.There will always be thugs who fully intend to dominate the world.This is why populations always need sufficient arms to repel the endless onslaught of tyrannical fools whose greatest desire is to kill a sufficient number of us to ensure their proper position of self-imposed master.If this simple and obvious secret was ever widely understood then people would no longer murder other people under the false legitimacy of war.We would not lay down our arms before government.We would become the government and therefore reduce the need for arms in a rational and natural way.For the greatest proponents of arms control are the greatest proponents and profiteers of war.And doesn’t history bear out this obviously facetious paradox to this very day?

    1. Under government opression I would suggest the statistics may be reversed although I hope we shall never find out.In fact if the statistics are ever reversed I could damned near guarantee that the statistics will never be found out.I only wish that the odds were one in seventeen that the government were ever found out.I guess that’s why I’d bitch about government killing more people than doctors do.Although they have absoluteley no qualms about doing it.And it seems as though you don’t need a doctor’s appointment to die.I believe its a competition.First the doctors will be in collusion with the government to kill you.Then the government will be in collusion to kill the doctors.Then the globalists are already in collusion to kill the governments.The globalists already have their own doctors.In closing,one is more likely to die from being born than anything else.And one is more likely to be ignorant from lack of education. And one is more likely to be enslaved from lack of freedom.

  2. When I was a kid we had guns ,security and doctors.What we didn’t have was a bunch of nanny state legislators making our lives better at our own expense because the cost of their care exceeded the cost of our needs.Now we’re not doing well but they’re doing fine and hoping to do better at our expense.I’m so afraid of terrorists now that I want to donate all of my income that Bernanke rightfully takes from me to give to Tim Geitner because I realize that Rothschild zionism is the only faction who gives a shit about me or dead people in wars which the bastards have created.Save me,tiny tim,for I am at your mercy.I am too great of a pussy and a helpless fool to any longer rely on myself and free markets.I am no longer capable of dealing with my own affairs.What could we possibly do without the keynesians like Krugman to lead us into the brave new world you have created for us?I hope you hang.And I’m sure that you hope I do.The difference being that I never intended to starve you to death.And I realize it isn’t personal.You’d love to starve us all.

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