SAN DIEGO, April 27, 2023 – The American College of Physicians (ACP) today announced a new initiative to help internal medicine physicians address firearm injury and violence as a public health issue and to provide strategies to help keep patients and their loved ones safe. Firearm violence kills and injures tens of thousands of Americans every year, injures so many more, and has devastated communities across the country.
The initiative announced today includes the launch of new online resources for physicians and a one-page guide for speaking with patients about firearm injury, along with a video that provides strategies and tips to have those conversations. The guidance about speaking with patients follows a previous call in the Annals of Internal Medicine, asking health care professionals to pledge to speak with their patients about firearm injury when risk factors are present. ACP encourages any health care professional who has not taken the pledge to do so. Additionally, Annals of Internal Medicine has published video testimonials from its latest Story Slam event dedicated to stories from those impacted by firearm violence.
The initiative was announced during a press briefing held in San Diego at ACP’s annual Internal Medicine Meeting 2023: Mastering Medicine Together. The briefing included remarks from Ryan D. Mire, M.D., MACP, President of ACP; Dr. Sue Bornstein, M.D., MACP, Chair of the ACP Board of Regents; and Shari Erickson, ACP Chief Advocacy Officer and Senior Vice President of Governmental Affairs and Public Policy.
At the briefing, ACP focused on how physicians can talk to their patients about this sensitive issue as one strategy that can help to mitigate the daily occurrences of deaths and injuries.
Dr. Mire said a recent shooting in Nashville took place merely ten minutes from his office where he treats patients, reinforcing how close we all are to becoming victims of gun violence. And, he added, in the month since that shooting took place, we have seen additional incidents in towns and cities across the country.
Dr. Bornstein spoke about her experiences as an internal medicine physician and as a gun owner, and as someone who has worked closely on ACP’s efforts to end firearm injury and violence. She cited statistics that show that each year more Americans lose their lives to firearm injury than to motor vehicle crashes. Adding that the firearm health crisis is very much in the lane of internal medicine physicians, as they are in a unique position to counsel patients about all aspects of their health, including firearm safety.
Dr. Bornstein also discussed the new video produced by ACP where she provides strategies and tips for physicians to speak with their patients; she also talked about collaborations with other organizations to address firearm injury such as the Healthcare Coalition for Firearm Injury Prevention.
Shari Erickson spoke about ACP’s advocacy efforts around the issue of firearm injury and violence including policies and statements. For nearly three decades, ACP has advocated for common sense policies that could help to prevent avoidable firearms-related deaths and injuries. ACP’s policy recommendations include things like keeping guns from people who pose a threat, banning the sale of assault weapons and bump stocks, and requiring that firearms and ammunition be stored safely and securely.
Erickson emphasized that each of ACP’s recommendations would help to make a small difference in reducing firearms deaths and injuries, but combined together they would have a significant impact in mitigating firearm death and injuries and saving lives.
“ACP has long advocated for a public health approach and common-sense measures that would help to curb this escalating crisis,” said Dr. Mire. “And ACP continues to address firearm injury through public policy and advocacy efforts, publication of related research and other content in Annals of Internal Medicine, events that examine the impact on clinicians and the public, and collaboration with others to enact change.”
About the American College of Physicians
The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization in the United States with members in more than 145 countries worldwide. ACP membership includes 160,000 internal medicine physicians, related subspecialists, and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. Follow ACP on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
ACP Media Contact: Andrew Hachadorian, (215) 351-2514, AHachadorian@acponline.org