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.