Nurses' Questions About Guns Could Save Lives
For example, 64% said they would almost always ask if the patient had an actual plan to commit suicide with a gun. But only
- 9% would ask if the patient had overdosed but was no longer suicidal
- 22% would ask if the patient was suicidal but had no suicide plan
- 21% would ask if the patient was suicidal with a non-firearm plan
- 16% would ask if the patient had been suicidal in past month but was not today
The study also showed that 72% of nurses and 49% of doctors said they 'hardly ever' personally counsel patients or families to remove or lock up guns at home.
Asking, "Do you have access to firearms?" seems like a simple question. Yet at the same time, it can be a dangerous, personal, and politically charged query.
In the weeks following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, I spoke with ANA president Karen Daley, who told me that the issue of gun control isn't necessarily a political one, but it is one which nurses have a responsibility to take the lead in addressing.
"This is a public health issue," she said. "This is a safety issue for families."
She told me that nurses regularly counsel patients about everything from the importance of wearing seatbelts and sunscreen to quitting smoking. Moreover, nursing groups often weigh in on issues that affect the health of our society.
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