CHICAGO: As injury, disability, and death rates continue to remain alarmingly high from firearm violence across the U.S., the second Medical Summit on Firearm Injury Prevention convened in Chicago (September 10-11) to lay out its priorities for addressing American’s public health crisis. Representatives from 47 multidisciplinary medical and injury prevention professional organizations participated in the Summit, which was co-hosted by the American College of Surgeons (ACS), American College of Physicians (ACP), the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the Council of Medical Specialty Societies (CMSS). The meeting was held at the ACS headquarters in Chicago, Illinois, as a hybrid meeting with both in-person and virtual participants.
“This critical public health crisis requires that we all come together to find solutions to save lives and support our communities,” said ACS Executive Director Patricia L. Turner, MD, MBA, FACS. “With 47 medical and community organizations at the table, I know that we can develop a consensus-based approach that will lead to improved policies and robust engagement strategies that can positively impact communities across the nation.”
The second Summit was convened to build upon the work of the inaugural Medical Summit held February 10-11, 2019, with the goal of initiating development of actionable, consensus-based firearm violence prevention strategies using a public health approach.
The groundwork for the organizations’ continued effort is based on five key recommendations from the first Summit: recognizing and addressing firearm violence as a public health crisis, researching this public health crisis using a disease model, engaging firearm owners and communities at risk as stakeholders to develop firearm injury programs, empowering the medical community across all health care settings to act in the best interests of their patients in a variety of palpable ways, and committing professional stakeholder organizations to ensure that these statements lead to constructive actions for improving the health and well-being of our nation.
“The American College of Physicians is proud to be part of this collaborative effort to confront the scourge of firearm injuries and deaths. Along with our colleagues, we see the effects of this public health epidemic in our communities every day, both inside and outside of the exam room,” said Sue S. Bornstein, MD, FACP, chair, Board of Regents, ACP. “The medical community joining together in these efforts signals the magnitude of this problem.”
Like the first Summit, the meeting included both firearm owners and non-owners to ensure a broad range of viewpoints were represented. The Summit provided an opportunity for an inclusive and collegial dialogue on identifying opportunities for the medical community to reach a consensus-based approach to firearm injury prevention, with a focus on understanding and addressing the root community causes of firearm violence.
“Now that we’ve concluded the second Summit, it’s becoming even more clear there are many things we can all agree on in terms of immediate, actionable items that can address firearm violence,” said Eileen M. Bulger, MD, FACS, Medical Director of ACS Trauma Programs, and Summit organizer. “There was a lot of spirited energy among attendees who expressed a strong desire to move forward quickly to address this problem that’s been devastating our nation.”
Distinguished experts included both physicians and non-physicians, who delivered evidence-based presentations directly related to varying approaches to firearm injury prevention and the evolving field of research which seeks to identify the most effective strategies. A key objective of the Summit was to identify elements of the most effective programs that can be implemented by physician practices/clinics/hospitals/health systems in partnership with their communities to lower the risk of violence for marginalized communities that are disproportionately impacted by violence.
“The Summit has once again provided an excellent format for addressing firearm violence. The key remains approaching firearm injury and death as a medical and public health problem, not a political debate. It also provides a way for professional organizations to move beyond published statements to taking constructive actions as part of a coalition,” said Jeffrey Kerby, MD, FACS, Chair of the ACS Committee on Trauma. “The public health approach has been very effective in significantly reducing traffic injuries and deaths through the years. We know this approach can work with firearm violence too.”
“Firearm violence continues to threaten our nation’s safety and public health,” said Chris Kang, MD, FACEP, president-elect of ACEP. “More must be done to reduce the risk and lasting effects of firearm-related injuries on our personal relationships, homes, workplaces, and communities. Emergency physicians welcome this opportunity to collaborate on common sense and respectful approaches to improve the coordination of care, prevention, and harm reduction so that fewer of our friends and loved ones are injured or killed in firearm-related tragedies.”
Some of the most significant work at the Summit came from breakout discussion sessions in which participants worked together to develop a set of initial recommendations for future action from the coalition. The recommendations from these talks and breakouts will be compiled by the planning committee and disseminated to attendees for their organizations’ further internal consideration.
“Our sessions allowed for frank discussion and an excellent exchange of ideas. It is impressive to have so many voices across the medical community together in one room all working together to find a common solution. Given the enormous toll that firearm violence is taking on our communities-and that it is now the leading cause of death for US children–it is urgent that we address it,” said Lois Lee, MD, MPH, FAAP, Chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention.
A primary outcome of the second Summit was a commitment from the participating organizations to create an infrastructure for continued collaboration among these organizations to work together to make firearm ownership as safe as possible and address the root causes of violence in our communities. We envision a longitudinal and sustained engagement among the participating professional organizations to continue this work.
“It’s encouraging that there was strong consensus coming out of the meeting to establish the infrastructure to continue cross-specialty collaboration on this issue,” said Helen Burstin, MD, MPH, chief executive officer of the Council of Medical Specialty Societies. “Our organization encompasses 48 specialty societies across the spectrum, and we are all seeing the ongoing impact of the firearm violence crisis and we recognize that it will take sustained and collaborative efforts to truly address it.”
It’s anticipated that Proceedings from the Second Medical Summit on Firearm Injury Prevention will be released in the coming months. View a complete listing of the organizations that participated in the Summit.