AHRQ Views: Blog posts from AHRQ leaders
We Must Not Underestimate the Impacts of Gun Violence on Healthcare Workers
The recent shootings in a Colorado nightclub and a Virginia store are among the over 615 mass shootings recorded this year, as of early December 2022. And the year is not done. The thousands of people killed and wounded by these acts of violence pose a heavy burden of grief upon their families and friends as well as leave communities shattered.
Rarely, however, is the burden of grief among the healthcare workforce in these communities adequately recognized; too often we may assume that healthcare workers are hardened to such events, given the daily trauma they experience in their work. Or we may assume someone else is taking care of the physicians, nurses, therapists, and aides who provide the needed medical care for those who have suffered the horror of a shooting.
But members of the healthcare workforce don’t just treat victims casually. These patients are their neighbors, their friends, their classmates, and at times their own relatives. Healthcare workers feel the vulnerability that everyone in those communities feels. They experience the losses first-hand, with an anguishing intimacy that none of us would wish for or scarcely imagine.
These violent incidents have been common in the United States, but we must not accept them as such. We owe it to each other to make our grief known and speak out about this wrong.
AHRQ remains committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of the healthcare workforce. The Agency is an active participant in the Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience, a National Academy of Medicine network of more than 200 organizations committed to reversing trends in clinician burnout.
AHRQ’s Patient Safety Network, meanwhile, has recently updated its primer on burnout, a resource that discusses burnout prevalence, its potential impact on quality and safety, and efforts to prevent and reduce the impact on providers of what happens in the healthcare workplace.
In addition, AHRQ recently was instrumental in efforts to begin forming The National Action Alliance to Advance Patient Safety, a partnership of healthcare systems, Federal partners, patients, and families devoted to advancing safety—not only among patients, but for the Nation’s healthcare workers.
However, we each have a role to play. The pain that healthcare workers experience is our pain, too. If you know a colleague who lives in a place that has experienced a mass shooting, I ask that you reach out to them.
Showing them concern by listening can help heal the pain and grief they are suffering.
Dr. Valdez is Director of AHRQ.