Guns in the Home Part of Comprehensive Preventive Health Care -- MEDICA - World Forum for Medicine

Guns in the Home Part of Comprehensive Preventive Health Care

They argue the importance of including firearm safety as part of physician-patient preventive care conversations. "The role of the physician is to treat, and help prevent, injuries and disease that can occur from behaviors or environment," said Doctor Eric Fleegler of the Division of Emergency Medicine at Children's Hospital Boston.

"We ask about gun ownership for the same reasons we ask about infant sleeping positions, car seats, pools, drugs, alcohol and tobacco. It is our responsibility to understand possible health risks and provide appropriate information to help patients make decisions to keep themselves and their families safe."

Research reviewed and data analysed and presented by the authors found in part that:

• 35 per cent of homes with kids report owning a firearm, representing more than 22 million children.

• 43 per cent of these homes had at least one unlocked firearm.

• 13 per cent kept firearms in a manner accessible and dangerous to children.

• A goal of Healthy People 2010, a U.S. government initiative, targeted reducing firearm fatality rates to 4.9 per 100,000. In 2007, the average was 10.4 per 100,000, more than double the goal, and the researchers found that only four out of the 50 states fell below this rate.

Research shows the practice of physicians asking about guns in the home, and process of relaying advice via conversations, is meaningful to parents. 90 per cent of parents surveyed in one study said they would tell their child's doctor if they kept a gun in the home while 75 per cent of gun owners said they would take a paediatrician’s advice to keep guns locked and unloaded.

"Preventive care is meant to be collaborative and supportive," said Fleegler. "Discussions should be non-judgmental and cover the broad gamut - but the key is in order to adequately address health risks, we have to be able to talk."; Source: Children's Hospital Boston