Letting Doctors Be Doctors

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Harborview Medical CenterToday I was honored to receive Washington Ceasefire's Ancil Payne Civic Leader of the Year award. Below is a portion of my acceptance remarks:

Thank you very much. I accept this award on behalf of all of my colleagues at the City Council who have taken a very focused and effective approach to gun violence, one of the major public health crises we face.

A year ago the City Council took a bold step for gun safety by doing something unheard of at the municipal level . . . we funded research on gun violence. Led by the doctors at Harborview Medical Center who see firsthand the devastation of gun violence, the research is linking multiple datasets never before linked -- to show how gun incidents are a predictor of additional trauma and early death.  

While the research is still underway and will not be completed until late June, some preliminary patterns are emerging.

  • If you are admitted to a hospital with any type of gun injury, you are 50% more likely to be arrested for any type of crime within 5 years compared to patients admitted with other injuries.
  • If you are admitted to a hospital with a gun injury, you are 1,000%—yes, one thousand percent—more likely to be arrested within 5 years on a gun-related charge than patients who had other injuries.

What this research will clearly establish is that gun incidents breed more gun incidents. Pick up and use a gun and your chances of arrest, injury and even death increase dramatically. Gun incidents breed more gun incidents.

This is the type of research that has been blocked at the national level for so long by the NRA. What a shame that a political special interest group can block basic public health research. It’s time we allowed the doctors to be doctors and not interfere with their work.