American College of Physicians builds coalition against gun violence

NRA Paranoid

Every time a physician treats a gunshot victim he or she should develop a discharge plan that includes a mental health evaluation and counseling as needed.

Failing to do so is practicing bad medicine, said JudyAnn Bigby, MD, former secretary of Health and Human Services of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Bigby, who spoke at an American College of Physicians press briefing on gun violence, noted that it is standard medical practice for physicians to refer “attempted suicides for mental health evaluation,” yet common practice for gunshot victims is to “patch them up, and send them home.”

The ACP was promoting its coalition of 36 medical, legal, and community organizations, all of which have now signed on to a document titled “Firearm-Related Injury and Death in the United States: A Call to Action from 8 Health Professional Organizations and the American Bar Association.”

The 28 new co-signers, which include the American Academy of Neurology, the American College of Chest Physicians, and the American Psychological Association, added their names after the statement was published in February 2015. The original eight-member coalition included the ACP and the ABA as well as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American College of Surgeons, American Psychiatric Association, American College of Emergency Physicians, and American Public Health Association…

Asked about next steps, ACP Executive Vice President Steven Weinberger said the coalition wants a public health campaign similar to campaigns used to curb drunk driving in order to build public support.

MedPage Today asked if the coalition sought a meeting with the National Rifle Association. Weinberger replied it had not, noting that the NRA did not appear to be interested in a “professional discussion.” He added, “When the original paper came out, they [the NRA] posted something on their website that was an acknowledgement but not a respectful analysis.”

Weinberger also pointed to the NRA’s efforts to block the nomination of Vivek Murthy, MD, as U.S. Surgeon General “because Dr. Murthy said gun violence was a public health concern…”

Another major problem, Bigby said, was the ease with which mentally ill patients had access to guns but did not have access to good mental health services. “This population, these people are the most severely mentally ill patients — they are the canaries in the mine for mental health care. If, as a society, we can’t get care for them, how can we address care for the large population of less severely ill patients?”

Way too rational for American politicians or gun profit-pimps like the NRA.

Surveys affirm, again and again, that Americans in general understand the good sense in programs like this – and wish to have sound regulation of access to firearms. Between ethically-corrupt groups like the NRA and cowardly elected officials, the need for professional organizations like the ACP to step in with broad political and social action only increases.

Psychologists secretly aided Bush torture program

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The leading American professional group for psychologists secretly worked with the Bush administration to help justify the post-9/11 US detainee torture program, according to a watchdog analysis…

The report, written by six leading health professionals and human rights activists, is the first to examine the alleged complicity of the American Psychological Association (APA) in the “enhanced interrogation” program.

Based on an analysis of more than 600 newly disclosed emails, the report found that the APA coordinated with Bush-era government officials – namely in the CIA, White House and Department of Defense – to help ethically justify the interrogation policy in 2004 and 2005, when the program came under increased scrutiny for prisoner abuse by US military personnel at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

A series of clandestine meetings with US officials led to the creation of “an APA ethics policy in national security interrogations which comported with then-classified legal guidance authorizing the CIA torture program,” the report’s authors found…

In secret opinions, the US Department of Justice argued that the torture program did not constitute torture and was therefore legal, since they were being monitored by medical professionals.

…The report says the APA passed “extraordinary policy recommendations”, in which the association reaffirmed that its members could be involved in the interrogation program, without violating APA ethical codes.

Additionally, the APA permitted research on “individuals involved in interrogation processes” without their consent; according to the report’s authors, such a policy turned against decades of medical ethics prohibitions…

Donna McKay, the executive director of Physicians for Human Rights…an organization with which all of the report’s authors have been affiliated at some point, said in a statement issued on Thursday: “This calculated undermining of professional ethics is unprecedented in the history of US medical practice and shows how the CIA torture program corrupted other institutions in our society.”

An accomplishment in its own right. The United States as a nation, government institutions, corporate entities and banks in particular, has descended steadily in all global ranking for corruption. A process that probably started with the VietNam War, nudged along by the Reagan years, and put into high gear by the Bush Administration.

We’ve posted before about individual shrink-wrapped programs designed to aid and abet torture programs run by the United States government. This is the first wholesale exposure of professional bodies complicit in torture on behalf of the American government.

Not a surprise to me.