Injury Prevention Quarter
Proceedings from the Medical Summit on Firearm Injury Prevention: A Public Health Approach to Reduce Death and Disability in the US
Ronald Stewart, MD, FACS
Department of Surgery
UT Health Science Center at San Antonio
AAST President Dr. Martin Croce represented the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma at the Medical Summit on Firearm Injury Prevention on February 10-11, 2019. This historic meeting of 44 major medical and injury prevention organizations and the American Bar Association was hosted by the American College of Surgeons (ACS). The summit was led by Dr. Eileen Bulger, Chair of the ACS COT and Treasurer of the AAST. Leaders of these 44 organizations met with the goal of building consensus around opportunities to work together to address the growing problem of firearm injury and death in the US. Invited speakers reviewed the epidemiology of firearm injury, discussed structural violence and the social determinants of health, reviewed the public health approach to the problem, and discussed opportunities for injury prevention interventions.
The following were the objectives of the Summit:
- Identify opportunities for the medical community to reach a consensus-based, non-partisan approach to firearm injury prevention
- Discuss the key components of a public health approach and define interventions this group will support
- Develop consensus on actionable items for firearm injury prevention using the public health framework
The 44 organizations reached consensus on the following nine points:
- Firearm injury in the US is a public health crisis.
- A comprehensive public health and medical approach is required to reduce death and disability from firearm injury.
- Research is needed to better understand the root causes of violence, identify people at risk, and determine the most effective strategies for firearm injury prevention.
- Federal and philanthropic research funding must be provided to match the burden of disease.
- Engaging firearm owners and populations at risk is critical in developing programs and policies for firearm injury prevention.
- Healthcare providers should be encouraged to counsel patients and families about firearm safety and safe storage. Educational and research efforts are needed to support appropriate culturally competent messaging.
- Screening for the risk of depression, suicide, intimate partner violence, and interpersonal violence should be conducted across all healthcare settings and in certain high-risk populations (such as those with dementia). Comprehensive resources and interventions are needed to support patients and families identified as high risk for firearm injury and who have access to a firearm.
- Hospitals and healthcare systems must genuinely engage the community in addressing the social determinants of disease, which contribute to structural violence in underserved communities.
- Our professional organizations commit to working together and continuing to meet to ensure these statements lead to constructive actions that improve the health and well-being of our fellow Americans.
The AAST Prevention Committee is committed to working with representatives of the surgical community to make these goals a reality.
The Proceedings of the Summit are in pre-publication and can be read and disseminated from the following link: https://www.journalacs.org/article/S1072-7515(19)30339-4/fulltext