A recent uproar in the media was the National Rifle Association telling doctors in a tweet to “stay in their lane” when addressing the issue of gun violence. As you know, doctors see the aftermath of gun violence; you have to tell the family whether their loved one is alive or dead from this senseless act of violence. An immediate tweet back to the NRA from the Annals of Internal Medicine simply said: “Doctors are in our lane.” In addition to this, the AIM also decided to collaborate with the American Foundation for Firearm Injury Reduction in Medicine (AFFIRM) to fund new research supporting new practice recommendations.
These two tweets have sparked an uprise of tweets from doctors and nurses. These tweets show pictures from the ER where patients with gunshot wounds have come in. Most of these pictures have considerable amounts of blood and are something the general population is not used to seeing. Accompanying these tweets are hashtags like “#Thisismylane” or “#Stayinyourlane.” Amid all of this, providers and affiliate organizations have begun to present a broader definition of their lane and how gun violence fits within it.
The medical community has been known to be reluctant when sharing its opinions on gun rights. Due to the rise of high-profile mass shootings, the medical community has been changing its perspective and redefining its role in advocating for policies related to public health. Many have said doctors do have the right to advocate for stricter gun policies since they see the immediate aftermath of gun violence.
Daniel T. Wu, M.D., associate professor of emergency medicine at Emory University and chief medical information officer for Grady Health System, studies violence of all kinds as a public health issue. His studies place gun violence along a broader continuum of all types of abuse. Most of these acts of violence occur invisibly to most of society, besides high-profile incidents involving firearms. Considering that doctors and nurses act as the only point of contact between many victims and any type of social support, you have a unique perspective on the breadth of the problem. The imperative to help can force doctors and nurses out of roles that were much more narrowly defined. Dr. Wu surveyed his team and found that over 90% saw the extra work of treating the patient in more than just a physical way as a core part of their job as making sure the patient is safe for the long run. New research into various areas of interface between gun violence and public health can be the next step into engaging action.
We at Emerald Coast Medical Association want to know what our members think about all of this. Do you think doctors should “stay in their lane,” or do you think that as physicians you have a right to have an input on these acts of gun violence.
Feel free to contribute to this discussion in the comments section of this blog; we appreciate every comment from our members.