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CEO DATELINE – Medical group helping doctors talk to patients about firearm safety

Dec. 17, 2018
By Walt Williams

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The American Medical Association has launched a new online module to train physicians how to talk to patients about firearm safety—a move coming not long after the National Rifle Association told doctors to “stay in their lane” and not discuss gun violence.

The continuing medical education module is designed to assist physicians, particularly those who specialize in primary care and emergency medicine, in recognizing risk factors that increase the potential for firearm injury and death, AMA said in a statement. It will also help them identify barriers to communicating with patients about firearm safety.

“Injury and death from firearms is a major public health crisis. Yet, while we know there is a very real need for firearm injury prevention among patients, the majority of physicians are not taught how to screen and counsel their patients on firearm safety,” AMA elected President Barbara McAneny said. “The AMA developed this educational module to ensure more physicians are prepared to confidently and effectively communicate with their patients about firearm safety.”

The NRA has opposed efforts to have doctors speak with patients about firearms safety. The gun rights organization convinced Florida lawmakers to pass a bill in 2011 banning doctors to speaking to patients about gun ownership, although the law was partially  struck down by a federal court last year. More recently, the group told doctors to “stay in their lane” in response to a position paper by the American College of Physicians with recommendations on how the U.S. could reduce gun violence.

For its part, AMA declared gun violence a public health crisis in 2016 and recently issued a series of policy proposals to address the problem. The new module “expands on the AMA’s work and extensive policy adopted over the past two decades aimed at encouraging firearm safety and preventing firearm-related injuries and deaths.”