Public health and medical community pledge to decrease gun violence | Public Health Insider

In 2016, 663 adults and 20 children died from a firearm injury in Washington state, including 144 adults and 7 children from King County.

  • Monday, June 25, 2018 10:45am
  • Life

The following is written by Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County, for Public Health Insider:

Firearm-related injury and death, from suicide to accidental injury and homicide – is a major public health problem and a leading cause of premature death in King County and nationally. In 2016, 663 adults and 20 children died from a firearm injury in Washington state, including 144 adults and 7 children from King County.

Firearm-related injuries have very high personal and financial costs to individuals, families and society – and that’s why prevention is essential. In 2015, the cost of firearm fatalities alone (not counting non-fatal injuries) in King County was almost $200 million from medical costs and lost productivity, and nationally the cost is in the hundreds of billions of dollars each year.

Although recent mass shootings have highlighted the need to more effectively address firearm-related injury and deaths, the fact is that that most firearm deaths are a result of suicide, followed by homicide and accidental deaths. Suicide is one of the top 10 causes of death overall in KC and the 2nd leading cause of death in people 15 – 44 years of age. In Washington state, firearm suicides are responsible for 75% of all firearm deaths; about half of all suicide deaths are caused by firearm injury. Firearm homicides disproportionately affect young men who are African American and Native American/Alaska Natives.

Healthcare providers have firsthand experience with the devastating impact firearm injuries and deaths have on individuals, families, and our communities. In a survey of internal medicine physicians, a majority reported having a patient that was injured or killed by a firearm.

For that reason, Public Health is joining with leading medical professional associations to form a new collaboration with a renewed commitment to decrease firearm-related injury and deaths by working together and using a public health approach.

Prevention is the core of a public health approach, and firearm injuries and deaths can be prevented. We must address prevention of firearm-related injuries in the same way we do for other types of injuries, poisonings, and infectious and chronic diseases, using a public health approach that includes:

Screening to identify patients with risk factors for firearm-related injury

Educating patients and families about risk factors, firearm safety and injury prevention as we do for other diseases and causes of injury – gun owners and non-gun owners alike understand the importance of firearm safety

Gathering data and conducting research on risk and protective factors for firearm related injury and death in order to make evidence-based recommendations and strategies

Promoting the adoption of successful prevention strategies, including those addressing upstream drivers of violence, such as childhood abuse, neglect and trauma, poverty, substance use disorders, disrupted families and communities, and being a victim of violence

Fostering multidisciplinary and community collaborations with stakeholders interested in reducing firearm-related injury and death, including gun-owners

The medical community has an important role in this work. You can read our joint statement, which includes a description of our approach and examples of actions healthcare providers can take to reduce firearm-related injury and death, at http://www.kingcounty.gov/firearm-injuries-ph.

This collaboration among healthcare provider professional organizations is the first of many steps local and statewide medical professionals can take together to reduce firearm injury and death in our communities. We invite other healthcare professional organizations to join us by endorsing our statement and/or participating in our future work.

The statement has been developed in collaboration with and signed by the following:

Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center

The large problem of gun violence, as it affects children and adolescents in the U.S., can be solved with an interdisciplinary group of scientists coming together to bring their individual expertise to develop solutions to this complex issue. — Frederick P. Rivara, M.D., MPH, professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine and researcher at Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center.

At Harborview our commitment to preventing gun violence grows from caring for each child or adult struggling to survive a gunshot injury. The fatal decisions of young people are startlingly impulsive. That’s why many accidental shootings and suicides are preventable. Simple actions matter: keep guns out of the home, or safely store and lock them up. — Beth Ebel, MD, MSc, MPH, Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center; Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Hospital; Adjunct Professor of Epidemiology, University of Washington

Washington Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics

Pediatric health care providers see the impact of gun violence on children firsthand… We understand that children and adolescents can be impulsive, and that all too often simply having access to a gun leads to a tragic outcome. We must work with families to ensure all firearms are stored safely to protect children from injury and death. — Dr. Elizabeth Meade, a pediatric hospitalist and vice president of the Washington Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Washington Chapter of the American College of Physicians

As an organization representing physicians who have first-hand experience with the devastating impact on the health of our patients resulting from firearms-related injuries and deaths, we have a responsibility to be part of the solution in trying to mitigate firearms-related tragedies. — Leah Marcotte, MD, Executive Council, Washington Chapter of the American College of Physicians

Washington State Medical Association

The Washington State Medical Association and our member physicians are on the front lines of public health and patient care. It’s doctors whose hands probe the wounds, and seek to heal the bodies and mend the minds of those affected by gun violence. That’s why in addition to patient education and risk counseling, we also call on our peers to increase observance, attentiveness and education around the mental health of patients to reduce their risk of harm, we support continued investment in behavioral health, and we advocate for safe gun storage practices and common sense approaches to reduce gun-related injuries and fatalities. We can all agree that injuries and deaths from gun violence are preventable. The Washington State Medical Association supports this effort, and pledges to continue our efforts to find solutions to this growing public health crisis. — WSMA President Donna Smith, MD

Washington State Nurses Association

As providers, we are trained to screen and counsel our patients on how to stay healthy and safe. We advise on things like helmet use and tobacco use, and we screen our patients for depression. Firearm-related injury and death is a public health issue as well, and health care providers have a responsibility to be part of the solution by respectfully screening and educating about gun safety and gun violence prevention… Nurses see firsthand the aftermath of gun-related injuries and death, and we fully support a balanced public health approach to addressing this national epidemic. — Jan Bussert, BSN, RN, President of the Washington State Nurses Association.

King County Medical Society

The King County Medical Society recognizes the immense burden of gun violence on the City of Seattle, Washington state, and our nation at large, and strongly supports public health effort to reduce gun violence, safer gun storage, education about gun safety, and the involvement of physicians in tackling this major issue. — Dr. Amish Dave, Co-Chair, Public and Mental Health Committee, King County Medical Society

Washington State Trauma and EMS Steering Committee

Washington State has one of the best organized trauma systems and emergency medical response teams with significantly better survival rates. We recognize prevention is an important part of any mature trauma system, and the Washington State Trauma and EMS Steering Committee supports sensible measures to decrease gun violence. — Sam Arbabi, MD, MPH, Professor of Surgery, UW School of Medicine

[flipp]

More in Life

Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon and Page Carson Foster. Photo credit Washington State Legislative Support Services
Carson Foster serves as page in Washington State House

The following was submitted to the Reporter: Carson Foster, a student at… Continue reading

Matt Kidd. Submitted photo
True strength has no limits

Covington resident Matt Kidd shares his story about kidney disease to help others during National Kidney Month.

Submitted photos from Kela Hall
Inspiring young women

The KD Hall Foundation honored Women’s History Month by having empowering and… Continue reading

Two commissioner positions available this year

For The Reporter The Tukwila Pool Metropolitan Park District (TPMPD) is a… Continue reading

Photo courtesy Tukwila Police Department’s
                                Facebook page
Tukwila Fire raises more than $8,000 for the LLS Stairclimb

The crew climbed up 69 flights of stairs at the Columbia Tower in Seattle.

Troop 398 newest Eagle Scout presentation

The Tukwila Historical Society is pleased to announce our volunteer and Tukwila… Continue reading

Submitted photo from the Seattle Seahawks
Seahawks Tre Flowers visits Tyee

He went there to present a $10,000 grant to the school

Measles outbreak: Officials urge vaccinations

Editor’s note: Measles is highly contagious. If you think you or your… Continue reading

The Tukwila Historical Society has been the location for the Japanese Sister City Gift Exchange Exhibit for the past several years. The city of Tukwila had many of the artifacts in storage and by joint effort it was decided to place the items in the museum for all to enjoy. For a viewing of the exhibit, please feel free to contact the Tukwila Historical Society to arrange a visit. Photo by Louise Jones-Brown
Japanese influence in the Duwamish Valley

In 1907, prior to Tukwila’s incorporation, the T.S. Unos family arrived from… Continue reading

For whodunit lovers, this short story is a gleefully-dark delight

Growing older is a very good thing. First of all, there’s a… Continue reading

Winter safety tips

The Washington State Fire Marshal’s Office give safety tips about the winter weather.

Search no more, you’ll want to read ‘Hero Dogs’

You felt like such a loser. It was a feeling that didn’t… Continue reading