Health Policy

Physicians call for policy solutions following mass casualty shootings

Medical professionals urge funding and research for gun violence as a public health issue


cartridges | Pixabay | gun | firearms | bullets
By Cindy George | August 7, 2019

Two mass shootings over the weekend collectively claimed the lives of more than 30 people in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, provoking shock and sadness from the nation, but a toughened resolve from medical professionals.

American Medical Association President Patrice Harris, M.D., urged policymakers to address gun violence as a public health issue.

“The devastating gun violence tragedies in our nation this weekend are heartbreaking to physicians across America. We see the victims in our emergency departments and deliver trauma care to the injured, provide psychiatric care to the survivors, and console the families of the deceased. The frequency and scale of these mass shootings demands action,” Harris said in a statement.

In Houston, emergency doctors who witness the ravages of gunshot wounds at Texas Medical Center trauma centers are working locally and nationally to find solutions to firearms violence.

The 2017 Las Vegas massacre that killed 58 and injured more than 400—the deadliest mass shooting in modern United States history—so moved Michael Bagg that he and fellow UTHealth McGovern Medical School student Marina Ibraheim coordinated an elective course called “Gun Violence and Physicians: What You Need to Know.”

Bagg, a third-year medical student, was raised in El Paso and understands just how much the class can make a difference.

“Most recently, we gave a workshop to pediatric residents. We taught pediatric residents about safe storage [of guns] and how to have that conversation with parents … without jeopardizing the patient-physician relationship,” Bagg said. “If you are going to have guns in the home, that’s a risk factor for accidental discharge—for suicide—but here’s what you can to do to mitigate that risk. I know that when these future pediatricians start having this conversation with parents, they are saving lives. … That’s a direct impact of what we’ve been working on at UT in contributing to gun violence prevention.”

Cedric Dark, M.D., an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said that this is a moment when the unique expertise of physicians can be heard and harnessed.

“Mass shootings help highlight the issues, but the issue for me is the steady trickle of daily gun violence,” Dark said. “When you are talking to physicians, particularly trauma surgeons or emergency physicians, we see the daily toll of gun violence.”

Dark, who works in the trauma centers at Ben Taub Hospital and Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center, was involved in the #ThisIsOurLane campaign that started in November on social media in response to a tweet from the National Rifle Association that called for “anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane.” He is also the founder and executive editor of the Policy Prescriptions blog, which seeks to marshal physician expertise to solve public health issues.

“Universal background checks and child access prevention laws—which could reduce adolescent suicide—could reduce the loss of lives,” Dark said.

American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) President Vidor Friedman, M.D., issued a lengthy update to the organization’s firearm violence initiatives after the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton. He calls for further research and legislation related to gun violence restraining orders and offers resources for physicians impacted by active shooter mass casualty incidents.

ACEP is also among the partner organizations of The American Foundation for Firearm Injury Reduction in Medicine. Known as AFFIRM, the nonprofit was founded by emergency physicians working to end the epidemic of gun violence through research, innovation and evidence-based practice.

Alison Haddock, M.D., assistant professor of emergency medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, is an ACEP board member.

Over the weekend, she worked in the Ben Taub trauma center and treated several patients with gunshot wounds. Her advocacy for evidence-based firearms violence research includes encouraging organizations and individuals to contribute to AFFIRM.

“We saw back in the ‘50s and ‘60s the huge difference that a public health approach made in motor vehicle accidents and how much safer we were able to make cars by putting an effort into that,” Haddock said.

She noted that some gun violence research, particularly from the nation’s premier public health agency—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—has been curbed because of resources.

“This research is just so important and it’s underfunded because of the restrictions in place,” Haddock said, referring to the Dickey Amendment, a rider in federal omnibus spending bills over the last two decades that has limited the funding of gun violence research to projects that don’t specifically advocate or promote gun control. “Because we don’t have that federal funding, having private funding is important.”




Social Posts

profile_image

Houston Methodist

@MethodistHosp

@SilkRoadMed We appreciate the shout-out.

5 mins ago
profile_image

University of Houston

@UHouston

RT @UHCougarMBK: .@UHouston coming in at No 25 this week#ForTheCity #GoCoogs

16 mins ago
profile_image

University of Houston

@UHouston

RT @UHcheerleading: Today, we honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. His message will always be one of love, compassion…

18 mins ago
profile_image

MD Anderson Cancer Center

@MDAndersonNews

#Prostatecancer risk factors include: -being over the age of 50 -family history -diet Learn more: https://t.co/PQ77F2XysX #CancerMoonshot #endcancer

42 mins ago
profile_image

CHI St. Luke's Health

@CHI_StLukes

As we reflect this #MLKDay, we hope to continue his legacy through caring for our communities, helping our neighbors, and sharing his message with others. https://t.co/phuNnJeQWG

45 mins ago
profile_image

Veterans Affairs

@DeptVetAffairs

Veteran awaiting heart transplant sang to lift others https://t.co/iBWkXD2gAZ via #VAntagePoint

1 hour ago
profile_image

MD Anderson Cancer Center

@MDAndersonNews

Inspired by the support she received during #uterinecancer treatment and a new perspective on life, Callie Glaves is exploring ways to give back to others: https://t.co/j51l5j8b2j @PamSolimanMD #gyncsm #endcancer

3 hours ago
profile_image

Veterans Affairs

@DeptVetAffairs

Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Marine Veteran Arthur Roland Keller, who served in a WWI machine gun battalion at the Battle of Soissons: https://t.co/zhtwsuYoDM

3 hours ago
profile_image

Rice University

@RiceUniversity

RT @RiceEngineering: Today we honor and celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. so that we may keep his dream alive forev…

4 hours ago
profile_image

TexasHeartInstitute

@Texas_Heart

"Many older adults don't get needed cardiac rehab after a heart attack," says a new study. https://t.co/sIlmV5VCRd via @Reuters https://t.co/XbCCl5QHDF

4 hours ago
profile_image

Memorial Hermann

@memorialhermann

Even though Dana was just three when she first arrived at TIRR Memorial Hermann for polio treatment, she remembers it clearly. Nearly five decades after her treatment as a child, Dana returned. Read why: https://t.co/PJ1jfOqn2O.

5 hours ago
profile_image

MD Anderson Cancer Center

@MDAndersonNews

@totalq8y2 Hi there, please see our response to your direct message. Best wishes to you.

5 hours ago
profile_image

Harris Health System

@harrishealth

A sliced apple versus a slice of apple pie. If it were a healthy choice contest, fresh fruit would certainly win. But many of us may find it hard to resist that sweet treat. To help you eat better, try the following simple steps. https://t.co/nAQHDZhmXI https://t.co/1AcQaEk6W8

5 hours ago
profile_image

Veterans Affairs

@DeptVetAffairs

In recognition of Dr. King’s incredible legacy of service and leadership to gain equality for all Americans, Congress designated #MLK federal holiday as a national day of service. #MLKDay is a chance to honor his life and re-commit ourselves to serving our communities. https://t.co/XbzfO3k6o8

5 hours ago
profile_image

University of Houston

@UHouston

Campus is closed today in honor of #MLKDay. Celebrate Dr. King's life and legacy with UH: https://t.co/ZKWf16ih45 https://t.co/ZXdr2MFaN0

8 hours ago