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Physician groups condemn shooting at Atlanta medical center

Article

Health care workers, patients deserve spaces free from gun violence.

gun firearm pistol: © Victor Moussa - stock.adobe.com

© Victor Moussa - stock.adobe.com

American health care workers and patients deserve places of healing free from gun violence, according to the American College of Physicians (ACP).

A medical worker was killed and four others were hurt in a May 3 shooting at the Northside Medical Midtown facility in Atlanta, Georgia, according to news reports. Amy St. Pierre, 38, a worker for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lost her life in the incident, with the location also identified as Midtown Atlanta’s Northside Hospital, according to news reports.

Police identified the alleged gunman as Deion Patterson, 24, a U.S. Coast Guard veteran who apparently sought treatment at the center but got angry when doctors wouldn’t give him an antianxiety drug, according to a CNN report. Patterson has been charged with murder and felonious assault, according to news reports.

ACP President Omar T. Atiq, MD, FACP, said the organization’s leaders and members were dismayed at the news.

“Yesterday’s incident was particularly heart-rending because it happened in what should be a place of healing,” Atiq said in a statement. “As ACP has noted in repeated reactions to shooting incidents, in the practice of medicine physicians all too regularly come face-to-face with the tragedy that gun violence brings.

“Our patients, my fellow physicians, and our other colleagues in medical facilities deserve to feel safe when seeking medical care or performing their jobs,” Atiq said. “We cannot continue to live in a country where people must give special consideration to whether or not it’s safe to go about their everyday lives.”

The Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) issued a statement strongly condemning the “senseless acts of violence” in that state’s capital.

“Medical professionals and patients should never have to worry for their safety,” MAG President Thomas E. Emerson, MD, said in the statement. “Shootings like these are far too common and not only harm innocent people, but also shake the foundations of our otherwise peaceful community.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to the victims of this shooting and their families,” Emerson said. We stand with our colleagues at Northside and Grady Hospitals, as well as the first responders who are caring for those affected. We must work together to prevent such incidents from happening in the future and foster a safe and peaceful society.”

The incident happened just days after ACP announced a new initiative to help its members talk to patients about preventing gun-related deaths and injuries.

Last year, the American Medical Association formed a gun violence task force to focus on violence prevention and to collaborate with state and specialty medical groups to increase litigation over firearm safety. The American Academy of Family Physicians has long advocated for a national approach to address gun violence as a public health crisis.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 48,830 Americans died from gun-related violence in 2021, the most of any year on record. The total includes murders and suicides, along with accidental deaths, deaths involving law enforcement and those whose circumstances couldn’t be determined.

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