Emergency Physicians May Benefit From Educational Interventions Targeting Firearms Safety

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Emergency physicians may benefit from training on safely handling firearms, according to the findings of a survey to be published in the March 2020 issue of Academic Emergency Medicine (AEM), a journal of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM).

The lead author of the study is Andrew Ketterer, MD, MA, assistant program director, Harvard Affiliated Emergency Medicine Residency, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. The findings of the study are discussed in a recent AEM podcast: Emergency Providers' Familiarity with Firearms: A National Survey and further highlighted in commentary by AEM Editor-in-Chief Jeffery A. Kline, MD:

Ketterer et al. found that the majority of survey respondents (more than one-half of the 1,074 surveyed) encountered firearms at work at least once per year, but under one-half of all respondents felt confident in their ability to deal with a firearm found on a patient. Firearm experience by the respondent corresponded with feelings of high self-confidence in this ability and was associated with comfort in managing firearms found in patients' possession. This finding suggests that emergency physicians may benefit from educational interventions targeting firearms safety.

"This study reinforces what many of us know anecdotally: most emergency physicians have encountered a firearm at work in the last year, and lack of confidence in how to handle the firearm correlates with our feeling unsafe," commented Brown University emergency medicine professor, Dr. Megan L. Ranney. 

"As we begin to develop approaches to firearm injury prevention as a health problem, it's essential for us to include the voices of firearm owners and trainers, to improve our comfort with handling these challenging clinical situations."

The survey represents the largest study to date detailing the personal experience of emergency physicians with the safe handling of firearms.

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