Yesterday afternoon a tragic shooting occurred inside a Chicago hospital. In the parking lot of Mercy Hospital, located on the south side of Chicago, a gunman shot his ex-fiance, emergency physician Dr. Tamara O’Neal, who witnesses say was wearing her blue scrubs and was reporting for duty. He shot her three times and then when she fell to the ground he shot her three more times.The gunman then ran into the hospital and shot a police officer and multiple other people. Witnesses report he just started shooting at random people. Hospital personnel scrambled and police searched the hospital including the nursery trying to find victims and the gunman. As of 8:30 PM on Nov 11, 2018, news agencies reported, the police officer, the gunman and two hospital employees dead.
For about a week prior to this shooting, doctors and surgeons had already been storming social media using a hashtag #ThisIsMyLane in a response to a tweet by the National Rifle Association telling “self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane.” What started the heated debate was a position paper recently published by the American College of Physicians. In it, the authors called gun violence a public health crisis and recommended among many other things, a ban on semi-automatic weapons which prompted the tweet from the NRA.
Using the #ThisIsMyLane and #AntiBulletHoles, doctors and surgeons shared on social media pictures of bloodied scrubs, clogs and face masks after caring for gun shot victims. They shared their stories of senseless violence and the toll it takes on families and our communities. In the aftermath of the November 8 mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, California had marked the 307th mass shooting in 311 days in the U.S., many physicians shared their belief that since we had taken a hippocratic oath, we could no longer stand by and watch the carnage in our neighborhoods.
If there was any question that as doctors the issue of gun violence and mass shootings is our lane, last nights shooting inside a Chicago hospital leaving 2 hospital employees dead, including a woman in a white coat, should most definitely make it clear that THIS IS OUR LANE. Below the authors of the “The Chronicles of Women in White Coats” share why. Please read their viewpoints and then also sign the open letter to the NRA from American Health Professionals calling for more research and more policies to address this tragic and preventable public health crisis.
“#ThisIsMyLane #VegasIsMyLane #VegasStrong #kidsdiefromgunviolence You would think that by my being in Pediatrics the incidence of gun violence that I encounter would be minimal. Oh my, if that were only true, I would not have to remember the losses. Some accidental, some self inflicted but all tragic. A four year old that found his dad’s gun and was just playing with it. A teenager who couldn’t think of a way out and had easy access to a gun in his home. Others who were brought in to the Pediatric Emergency Room because my ER was the closest one, and they are bleeding out from a drive by shooting. A car sale that went horribly wrong. A psychopath with loaded guns shooting at people at a concert. This is my lane, this is my ER. This is what we have to clean up due to gun violence. These are the tragic lives lost doing a job where we have to explain to family members. Listening to kids explain safety drills which have now become as routine as fire drills. These are the sights, sounds and stories we will never forget.” — Dr Maria Perez-Johnson
“#ThisIsMyLane Because I’ve taken care of teens shot by stray bullets in the leg while they walk in their neighborhood, who develop secondary skin infections from their wounds. They are casualties of driveby’s, afraid to be outdoors where they live. This is my lane.” — Dr. Bande Virgil
“#ThisIsMyLane because I have seen too many innocent people die before my very own eyes in the ER from gun violence. Because I know what it’s like to have to tell someone that their family member died due to senseless violence and I have seen and heard their gut wrenching cries.
Because it breaks my heart to have my little kids come home from school telling me about lock down drills and bad guys who might come into their school. Because I can’t turn on the news around my kids.
This is my lane because I don’t want to live in a country where we have had 307 mass shooting in 311 days. And I don’t know what to tell my children about the world we live in. Now I can’t honestly tell them that they are safe at school nor that their mommy is safe at work.”— Dr. Archana Shrestha
#ThisIsMyLane because 2/3 of gun deaths are suicides, more than 50 every day. 50% of suicide deaths are by gun. The strongest predictor of how likely a person is to die from suicide is a gun in the home, stronger than depression or substance abuse. A gun in the home makes a suicide three times more likely. 85% of suicide attempts by gun are fatal vs. 2% of overdoses. Since suicide attempts are often impulsive, the presence of a gun in the home increases the risk for everyone in the home, even in those without mental health issues. If a gun is not available, it is rarely used as a method of suicide. — Dr. Danielle Johnson
On the nights when we get victims of gun violence that are maimed or have such intense injuries that they succumb to their injuries, I feel strongly that This Is My Lane. As the Emergency physician that has to tell parents that their child is dead due to a bullet in the wrong trajectory, I feel strongly that This Is My Lane. Let’s stop fighting about this and get research funded and gun safety awareness mainstream so that we can change this Lane for good! — Dr Charmaine Gregory
“We are the ones who care for the victims, families, we are the once dealing with deep wounds it leaves in communities. This is OUR lane!” — Dr Yulia Johnson
It is so heartbreaking to lose one of our own. This touches on two areas that are the LANE of Emergency physicians – domestic violence and gun violence. Thank you for putting this piece together. I hope that it will spark discussion and motivate many of us to support gun violence research. This is ALL OUR LANE.
Totally agree. We have to stop making this a political issue and make this a public health issue. Let’s all work together to bring about change for our communities, for our country, for our families.
This is heartbreaking and an ever present reminder of the scourge of gun violence and domestic violence. This is our lane as women in white coats, both personally and professionally.
We, as doctors, are the ones who attempt to save the victims of shootings in yoga studios, schools, houses of worship, streets and silent lonely homes across our great country. We also know that it doesn t have to be this way. We can solve this epidemic. It is time not to cede our lane but rather, to accelerate.
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