It's Time to Talk to Your Patients About Guns

Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH


April 02, 2018

Hello. I'm Dr Arefa Cassoobhoy, a practicing internist, Medscape advisor, and senior medical director for WebMD. Welcome to Medscape Morning Report, our 1-minute news story for primary care.

In 2016, on average, 97 people died every day from firearm violence nationwide. Due to recent mass shootings, firearm violence remains a major public health concern. In response, the editors of the Annals of Internal Medicine are encouraging doctors to sign a pledge to commit to talking with their patients about firearms. To date, over 1000 physicians have signed the petition.

There is evidence that people who commit firearm violence often have risk factors that bring them into contact with doctors. For example, as many as 45% of people who commit suicide have seen a doctor within a month of their deaths.[1]

The recommendations are to counsel patients with guns on safety and learn how to take action if there is imminent danger.

Other high-risk factors for gun violence include alcohol and drug abuse, a history of violence, and poorly controlled severe mental illness. Children and impaired adults are also at high risk for unintentional gun injury.

Learn more about preventing firearm violence by clicking here.

Follow Dr Cassoobhoy on Twitter at @ArefaMD