Warning: This article contains graphic images.
Doctors are sharing graphic photos on Twitter showing what their clothes and their ERs look like after treating shooting victims. This is in response to a tweet from the NRA reading, “Someone should tell self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane. Half of the articles in Annals of Internal Medicine are pushing for gun control. Most upsetting, however, the medical community seems to have consulted NO ONE but themselves.”
Someone should tell self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane. Half of the articles in Annals of Internal Medicine are pushing for gun control. Most upsetting, however, the medical community seems to have consulted NO ONE but themselves. https://t.co/oCR3uiLtS7
— NRA (@NRA) November 7, 2018
The NRA was tweeting in response to the release of the American College of Physicians’ updated gun safety guidelines, which are the new guidelines doctors have developed to protect their patients from injury and death from guns. The NRA’s tweet came just hours before a gunman shot up Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, CA, killing 12 people before taking his own life.
The fact that the NRA has no shame is not surprising. What is surprising, though, is that they seem to think that doctors don’t know anything about the dangers of gun violence, despite treating people with gunshot wounds. Doctors should stay in their lane? Guns have inserted themselves fully into that lane, making it so that doctors have no choice but to deal directly with the repercussions.
Forensic pathologist Judy Melinek of San Francisco shared with BuzzFeed News that she’s done autopsies for over 300 gunshot wound cases. She tweeted back at the NRA and her response went viral, prompting others to join in.
Do you have any idea how many bullets I pull out of corpses weekly? This isn’t just my lane. It’s my fucking highway. https://t.co/48S9UIFaV2
— Judy Melinek M.D. (@drjudymelinek) November 9, 2018
Many doctors took to Twitter to share their experiences with gunshot victims, using pictures of the aftermath of gun violence as a way to drive that point home.
Dear @NRA ,
Until you’re covered in blood and pronounce someone dead in the trauma bay, or told a mother that her child is dead, or sewed someone’s scalp together so their family doesn’t have to see their brain matter, please don’t tell me what my lane is. #thisismylane https://t.co/u5QX7VUaKX
— Danielle Kay (@KayDaniellei) November 10, 2018
Doctors speaking to BuzzFeed News said that telling the family of victims that their loved ones didn’t make it is the hardest part of the job.
Hey @NRA ! Wanna see my lane? Here’s the chair I sit in when I tell parents their kids are dead. How dare you tell me I can’t research evidence based solutions. #ThisISMyLane #ThisIsOurLane #thequietroom pic.twitter.com/y7tBAuje8O
— Stephanie Bonne (@scrubbedin) November 9, 2018
— Stephanie Bonne (@scrubbedin) November 10, 2018
To the @NRA, this is what it looks like to stay in #mylane. We will not be silent about the toll of #gunviolence. I speak out for this patient, for their parents who will never be the same, for every person who came after this one and didn’t have to #thisiseveryoneslane pic.twitter.com/B5mo6pC4dV
— Kristin Gee, MD (@kmgee9) November 10, 2018
We are not self-important: we are important to the care of others
We are not anti-gun: we are anti-bullet holes in our patients
We consult with everyone but extremists
Most upsetting, actually, is death and disability from gun violence that is unparalleled in the world https://t.co/E8qz3lewK7
— Esther Choo MD MPH (@choo_ek) November 8, 2018
A cardiothoracic surgery fellow named Robert Lyons told BuzzFeed News that “the raw emotion of that moment stays with every physicians for the rest of their lives.” He added, “The death affects that family and all of those that tried to save them forever.
In a since deleted tweet, Lyons wrote, “16 y/o GSW to the Aorta. @NRA his mother is in the waiting room. Should you tell her he didnt make it? Didnt think so. #stayinmylane #ThisISMyLane.” He included a picture of his face in a blood-splattered mask.
Adam Shiroff, the director of the Penn Center for Chest Trauma in Philadelphia, PA, told BuzzFeed News that he’s been treating gunshot victims for over 10 years. He said,
“Without question, the most difficult part, as has been echoed recently by friends and colleagues on Twitter, is not the technical aspects of complicated and high-risk operations, it’s the human aspect. It’s having to change your bloody scrubs before you go talk to the family to tell them that their son is dead.”
I’ll stay in my lane when you pry the life SAVING instruments from my cold, dead, hands.
— Adam Shiroff (@AdamShiroff) November 8, 2018
Shiroff hopes to make it so people in the United States “understand the breadth of this problem.” He told BuzzFeed News, “Mass casualties, like the ones recently in Thousand Oaks and Pittsburgh, are unquestionably horrific events, but the truth is that each major city in the US sees a mass casualty of gunshot violence every week. The public should understand that the majority of us in the medical community are not anti-gun; we are anti-meaningless, preventable deaths.”
Melinek, the forensic pathologist whose tweet went viral, says “there is a solution.” She explained, “The doctors and scientists told us how to mitigate auto vehicle deaths and deaths from smoking. We should listen to them and fund gun violence research if we want to see a drop in gun deaths.”
h/t BuzzFeed News