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Baltimore’s Top Doctor: Why Aren’t We Treating Gun Violence Like A Health Crisis?

By in Huffington Post on June 19, 2017

By Lauren Weber

Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore’s health commissioner and an emergency room physician, wrote a moving op-ed last week after a gunman opened fire on a congressional baseball practice. In it, she highlighted the daily horror of gun violence the medical community faces.

Wen has long argued that gun violence is a public health issue ― a medical emergency without a prevention plan.

“Medical professionals are trained to stanch bleeding, stitch wounds and patch up broken bodies,” she wrote in her piece for The New York Times, titled “What Bullets Do To Bodies.” “We are good at our jobs; most gunshot victims survive their wounds. But every day, we are plagued by the question of how to prevent these injuries in the first place, when the damage is so extensive from weapons so readily available.”

Wen spoke to HuffPost on Monday about why she believes gun violence is a public health issue, and what Baltimore is doing to prevent it.

The latest news about House Majority Whip Steve Scalise’s condition is that he has been upgraded from critical to serious, but he was at “imminent risk of death” when he arrived at the hospital. Why was this kind of single gunshot wound so life-threatening?

I don’t want to speculate on the tragic incident involving the congressman. I’ll say that in general what I’ve seen in the ER is that when you have an assault-style rifle or an injury or gunshot wound from an assault-style rifle ― such rifles tend to discharge at much higher velocities than handguns. And depending also on the type of bullet that’s used, it […]    

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