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Doctors come together to address gun violence as public health issue

File photo. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Expect your doctors to start talking to you and your kids about gun violence.

Having doctors take the lead in addressing gun violence as a public health issue is the goal of a new collaboration announced by Public Health — Seattle & King County health officer Jeffrey Duchin on Tuesday. They promise a renewed commitment to decrease firearm-related injury and deaths.

The focus is prevention.

“With a public health approach that includes screening to identify patients with risk factors for firearm related injury, educating patients and families about risk factors, firearm safety, and injury prevention, as we do for other diseases and causes of injury,” Duchin said.

Those efforts include joining with experts at Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center, Washington State Medical Association, King County Medical Society, and other state and local medical groups to recommend more screening and education for patients of all ages, including everything from identifying risk factors to talking to them about the importance of safely storing guns.

Public Health — Seattle & King County says firearm-related injury is a leading cause of premature injury-related death in King County, Washington state, and nationally. As healthcare providers, they say they have firsthand experience with the impacts of firearm injuries and death.

It recommends medical professionals should also respect beliefs of lawful firearm owners in order to effectively communicate. Also, to use healthcare providers who are also gun owners to provide leadership and knowledge on the issue.

The collaboration issued a joint statement that it hopes other healthcare organizations endorse.

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