A deadly shooting at Chicago’s Mercy Hospital on Monday has once again brought into sharp focus the country’s ongoing epidemic of gun violence.
A 32-year-old man fatally shot an emergency room physician in a domestic dispute outside the hospital, Chicago police said. He then entered the hospital and killed a Chicago police officer, who was responding to the call, and a pharmacy resident, who was stepping off an elevator.
The gunman also died in the shooting. It’s not yet clear whether he died of self-inflicted wounds or from police gunfire.
“Every shooting in America is a tragedy,” a Mercy Hospital spokesman said in a news conference. “And it is especially senseless when a shooting occurs in the healing space of a hospital.”
Dr. Alison Tothy, a pediatric ER doctor at the University of Chicago, and Dr. Rahul Khare, who worked in the emergency room at Northwestern Memorial Hospital for a decade, joined Morning Shift host Tony Sarabia to reflect on the role that ER doctors play in addressing gun violence.
The safeguards hospitals have in place
Dr. Rahul Khare: Every hospital system has kind of a disaster relief, active shooter protocol. There are announcements that go to the entire hospital in real time, there are people who stay in their places, there are people who evacuate. We have drills at every emergency department that I’ve worked in in the city to go over these in a safe manner. You just never think that you would have to do it — they had to do it yesterday.
Dr. Alison Tothy: Medicine is chaotic in general, and the emergency department is even more chaotic — whether it’s resuscitating someone or someone that walks in the door that is set to create chaos and violence. … But what you hope is that all of those parts that we trained for kick in and we’re able to protect each other, our colleagues, as well as our patients and their families.
The NRA’s ‘stay in your lane’ comment to doctors
Khare: This is our lane, so when the NRA said that, we did fight back because we feel like we do the research on gun violence. We understand this [issue]. Many of us ... focus on violence in the emergency department, and gun control laws, and how it affects how many people get shot. So it’s important for us to continue to research this and we need to be a part of that discussion.
Tothy: Just as I talk about kids wearing helmets so that they don’t fall and bump their head and suffer severe concussion, or I talk about preventing diabetes by limiting sugary drinks, those are my lanes. I take care of kids and families who are victims of gun violence, and until someone comes in and they’re the ones that are holding the family’s hand as they tell them that their child or loved one died, I’m going to continue to practice in my lane, which is advocating for a safer agenda around guns.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. Click the “play” button to listen to the entire segment, which was produced by Daniel Tucker and adapted for the web by Arionne Nettles.