Meeting the challenges of modern medicine will require more than seeing patients.
In the fall of 2018, the American College of Physicians published a position paper on gun violence. “Firearm violence continues to be a public health crisis in the United States,” its authors wrote, in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. The report argued that assault weapons should be banned and that “physicians should counsel patients on the risk of having firearms in the home.” When it was published, the National Rifle Association responded with a tweet: “Someone should tell self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane.”
The N.R.A.’s tweet provoked an unprecedented response from the medical profession. Using the hashtag #ThisIsMyLane, emergency-room physicians, trauma surgeons, pediatricians, and pathologists, all of whom are involved in the care of patients with gunshot wounds, posted images of shooting victims and bloodstained hospital floors. Some shared selfies in which they were splattered with blood. “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,” Judy Melinek, a forensic pathologist, tweeted. Melinek’s tweet went viral. Doctors appeared on television and wrote op-eds expressing their disgust with the N.R.A.