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Medical News & Perspectives
October 16, 2019

Firearms and Dementia: “A Big Deal and a Tough Issue”

JAMA. 2019;322(17):1639-1642. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.15496

Emergency physician Emmy Betz, MD, MPH, has yet to treat a gunshot wound inflicted at the hand of an elderly adult with dementia. When she had concerns about patients with dementia and their access to firearms, Betz talked with their caregivers about safety measures. “In those cases, thankfully, the weapons were all locked up,” she said. She’d like to keep it that way.

For Betz, an associate professor of emergency medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora, those conversations come under the rubric of what she calls patient-centered injury prevention: “How do we, as clinicians, connect with patients to help them prevent injuries and live healthy lives?” By applying that concept to her 2 passions—conducting research on firearm suicide and elderly drivers’ safety—Betz turned her attention to firearms and dementia. In fact, she cofounded the Colorado Firearm Safety Coalition.

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