Trauma Surgeon on Gun Violence: We Lost Our 'Teachable Moment'

Doctor says if people had seen autopsy pics of Sandy Hook kids, things may be different
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 27, 2017 4:10 PM CDT
Gun Violence, Seen Through the Eyes of a Trauma Surgeon
If the public could see what trauma surgeons see.   (Getty Images/Neustockimages)

He was told it would be "pointless," but Jason Fagone wrote his story for Highline anyway, diving deep into gun violence as seen by Philly trauma surgeons who "piece people back together after the most horrific acts." The person resigned to his efforts: Dr. Amy Goldberg, who has spent three decades at Temple University Hospital, which reportedly sees more gunshot victims than any other Pennsylvania hospital, in a city among the country's most violent. Fagone shadowed Goldberg on her rounds, as well as heard her describe the sinking "feeling of wrongness" that grew stronger over the years as she treated "GSW" patients—code for shooting victims. She also described the brutality of surgery ("some of the ... tools look like things you'd buy at Home Depot," Fagone writes), the rough road survivors have before them, and how much it hurts—not just the patients, but her emotionally as well.

Fagone also delves into Goldberg's work with Scott Charles, the hospital's trauma outreach coordinator. Together the two work to combat the "senselessness" of gun violence via demos that show the public how doctors save shooting victims, training for community members to administer first aid right after a shooting, and a survivors' intervention program. But Goldberg still didn't see the point of Fagone writing about it—all because the US lost its "teachable moment" after Sandy Hook, which she says would have changed the gun control debate if the public had seen the autopsy pics of "kids, riddled with bullets, dead as doornails." "Nobody gives two s---s about the black people in North Philadelphia if nobody gives two craps about the white kids in Sandy Hook," she says. Full story here, including the surgeons' battle with "God and the Devil." (More Longform stories.)

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