Garen J. Wintemute, MD, MPH
Disclaimer: The funding sources had no role in the preparation of this article.
Grant Support: California Wellness Foundation (grant 2014-255) and the Heising-Simons Foundation (grant 2016-219).
Disclosures: Disclosures can be viewed at www.acponline.org/authors/icmje/ConflictOfInterestForms.do?msNum=M17-2672.
Requests for Single Reprints: Garen J. Wintemute, MD, MPH, Violence Prevention Research Program, UC Davis Medical Center, 2315 Stockton Boulevard, Sacramento, CA 95817; e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author Contributions: Conception and design: G.J. Wintemute.
Drafting of the article: G.J. Wintemute.
Final approval of the article: G.J. Wintemute.
Obtaining of funding: G.J. Wintemute.
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Fatima Cody Stanford, J. Drew Payne, Anita Vanka, Heather F. Sateia, Robert K. Cato, Joel Armitage, Ryan R. Kraemer, Wilson W. Lam, Lili Shek, Luis A. Taboada, Martha L. Hlafka, Andria P. Medina, Kapil Mehta, Michael S. Kern
October 30, 2017
Letter to the Editor
In his article, What You Can Do to Stop Firearm Violence(1) Wintemute speaks to the proliferation of mass shootings in the United States and captures the alarming number of firearm related deaths (~35,476) in the United States in 2016 alone. (2) He charges us to speak to our patients about firearms, counsel them on safe firearm behaviors, and take further action when an imminent hazard is present.(3) In an accompanying Annals of Internal Medicine editorial Editor-in-Chief Laine and Deputy Editor Taichman address the Journal’s and the American College of Physician’s (ACP) long term commitment to addressing firearm violence.(4, 5) As the Academic Advisory Board of the ACP, we strongly support the ACP’s commitment to addressing this issue, and we have taken steps at our respective institutions to carry out this mission. Here are a few examples of how we are addressing this:
1. Ask about firearm ownership on patient intake forms or incorporate an algorithm during history to counsel about firearm safety
2. Screen high risk groups (alcohol and drug abuse, history of violence, uncontrolled mental illness) for gun ownership and counsel appropriately
3. Ask and counsel about child access to firearms and how to prevent injury/fatality
4. Educate trainees about health policies to reduce firearm injuries
5. Contact legislators about policies for universal background checks and improved firearm safety
We recognize that the climate surrounding firearm safety varies drastically in different parts of the country, but we also recognize that if we don’t take action regarding this issue, our patients will continue to succumb to this harsh reality. Regardless of one’s belief about owning firearms, we can all agree that the harm inflicted is a public health crisis that can be ameliorated in apolitical ways. Research evaluating gun violence patterns would be a tremendous boost to understanding further how to better approach gun safety issues, and we should encourage our representatives to help with CDC funding that was stripped in 1997. On the individual patient level, we view the risk for gun violence in the same manner as other threats to our patients’ health and accordingly, have made the commitment to counsel our patients when appropriate. We urge you to also make the following commitment: “When risk factors for harm to my patients or others are present, I will ask my patients about firearm ownership and safety.” at go.annals.org/commit-now
1. Wintemute GJ. What You Can Do to Stop Firearm Violence. Ann Intern Med. 2017.
2. Prevention CfDCa. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System- WISQARS™. In: Prevention CfDCa, ed; 2017.
3. Wintemute GJ, Betz ME, Ranney ML. Physicians, Patients, and Firearms. Ann Intern Med. 2016;165(12):893.
4. Taichman DB, Bauchner H, Drazen JM, Laine C, Peiperl L. Firearm-Related Injury and Death: A U.S. Health Care Crisis in Need of Health Care Professionals. Ann Intern Med. 2017.
5. Butkus R, Doherty R, Daniel H, Health, Public Policy Committee of the American College of P. Reducing firearm-related injuries and deaths in the United States: executive summary of a policy position paper from the American College of Physicians. Ann Intern Med. 2014;160(12):858-60.
October 19, 2017
MY COMMITMENT: When risk factors for harm to my patients or others are present, I will ask my patients about firearm ownership and safety.
Wintemute GJ. What You Can Do to Stop Firearm Violence. Ann Intern Med. [Epub ahead of print 17 October 2017]167:886–887. doi: 10.7326/M17-2672
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2017;167(12):886-887.
Published at www.annals.org on 17 October 2017
Emergency Medicine, Tobacco, Alcohol, and Other Substance Abuse.
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