Pediatric Emergency Department Physicians Wary of Discussing Firearm Injury Prevention
AAP National Conference & Exhibition 2017
Many emergency departments provide education on childhood injury prevention. But new
research shows many physicians are leaving out one important topic: firearm injury
The study abstract, “Firearm Safety: A Survey on Practice Patterns, Knowledge and
Opinions of Pediatric Emergency Medicine Providers,” will be presented Friday, Sept.
15 at the 2017 American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition in Chicago. The study found many physicians do not discuss firearm injury prevention when discussing
overall injury prevention issues such as helmet use, child passenger safety or childproofing.
“The best solution for firearm injuries in children is primary prevention,” said lead
researcher Sheryl Yanger, MD, FAAP, an attending physician in pediatric emergency
medicine at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. “And we hope this
study will lead to future efforts to increase pediatric injury prevention and firearm
safety counseling in the emergency department.”
Researchers conducted a prospective cross-sectional survey of pediatric emergency
providers and received 185 responses. Approximately 35 percent of those who responded
said they provide counseling on firearm injury prevention “sometimes” or “frequently”
when compared with other injury prevention topics, such as helmet use and child passenger
When asked about barriers to firearm safety counseling, respondents reported more
political restraints, lack of awareness, and legal constraints as compared with barriers
to general injury prevention counseling. About a third of respondents were unsure
if the law in their state permitted them to have discussions about firearms.
Researchers suggest that future efforts to increase firearm safety screening and counseling
by pediatric emergency department providers in the emergency department should focus
on efforts to improve clinician confidence and increase the feeling of personal responsibility
for providing this information. This, as well as continuing to analyze barriers to
both general injury prevention and firearm safety in the emergency department, may
lead to increased counseling among pediatric emergency department providers.