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Preventing Firearm-Related Death and Injury

Deaths and injuries from firearms are significant public health problems, and clinicians are in a unique position to identify risk among their patients and discuss the importance of safe firearm practices. Although clinicians may be ill-prepared to engage in such discussions, an adequate body of evidence is available for support, and patients are generally receptive to this type of discussion with their physician. This eminently practical review provides an overview of existing research and recommended strategies for counseling and intervention to reduce firearm-related death and injury.

Use this study to:

  • Consider the most common causes of firearm-related injury or death. Are mass shootings responsible for most?
  • Review the three categories of persons who are at increased risk for firearm-related death and injury.
  • Do you think it is important to ask about firearms when risk factors for injury are present? What should be emphasized in such discussions with patients? How might they help to improve patient safety and prevent injury?
  • Are patients who are at risk for suicide the only ones with whom we should discuss firearms? How about patients with small children or grandchildren? Patients with dementia or family members with dementia?
  • Why don't physicians discuss firearms with patients as often as necessary? How can we overcome such barriers to promoting patient safety?
  • Do you know what questions to ask, and how? Do you know how to counsel patients about safe firearm storage?

Annals of Internal Medicine is the premier internal medicine academic journal published by the American College of Physicians (ACP). It is one of the most widely cited and influential specialty medical journals in the world.

Back to the July 2019 issue of ACP IMpact