FRIDAY, March 20, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Most emergency providers (EPs) report having little experience handling firearms, although many report encountering them, according to a study published online in the March issue of Academic Emergency Medicine.

Andrew R. Ketterer, M.D., from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, and colleagues surveyed EPs representing medical centers in 22 states. A 15-item questionnaire relating to knowledge of firearms, experience with handling firearms, and exposure to firearms while at work was completed by 1,074 EPs.

The researchers found that 59.1 percent reported encountering firearms in the emergency department or its immediate environment once per year or more. About half (54.2 percent) were not confident in their ability to safely handle a firearm found in a patient’s possession. EPs from states in the top quartile of firearm ownership had a higher frequency of handling firearms: 21.5 percent reported handling firearms daily or weekly compared with 10.9 percent in states in the bottom quartile. There were also significant differences in the level of firearms training: 42.1 and 33.0 percent of respondents in top- and bottom-quartile states, respectively, reported formal training. There was an association noted for increased regional firearm ownership rates with decreased rates of feeling unsafe at work.

“The variability in firearms experience among EPs in the face of nonvarying rates of encountering firearms at work suggests a need for educational interventions targeting firearms safety, especially in regions with lower rates of firearms experience,” the authors write.

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