A Simulation-Based Prospective Cohort Study on Teaching Best Practices in Firearms Safety

Andrew R. Ketterer, Jason J. Lewis, Joshua C. Ellis, Matthew M. Hall, Ran Abuhasira, Edward A. Ullman, Nicole M. Dubosh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background Gun violence in the United States is a significant public health concern. The high rate of weapons carriage by Americans places medical providers at risk for exposure to firearms in the workplace and provides an opportunity for patient safety counseling. Few curricular interventions have been published on teaching firearms safety principles to medical providers. Given the risk of encountering firearms in the workplace and the opportunity to engage patients in firearms safety counseling, providers may benefit from dedicated training on safely handling firearms. Methods This was a prospective cohort pilot study of a simulation-based educational intervention for third- and fourth-year medical students enrolled in an emergency medicine subinternship and emergency medicine bootcamp elective. Before undergoing the educational intervention, students completed a preintervention simulation case during which they discovered a model firearm in the patient's belongings and were asked to remove it. Students then received the intervention that included a discussion and demonstration on how to safely remove a firearm in the clinical setting. Two weeks later, the students were presented with a model firearm in a different simulation case, which they needed to remove. During the preintervention and postintervention simulations, students were evaluated on their performance of the critical actions in firearm removal using an 8-item checklist. Students' scores on this checklist were compared. Results Fifty-three students participated in the study, 25 of whom completed the postintervention assessment. The median number of correctly performed critical actions preintervention was 5 (interquartile range = 4-6) and postintervention was 7 (interquartile range = 6-8, P < 0.001). Students showed particular improvement in 4 steps: holding the firearm by the grip only, pointing the firearm in a safe direction at all times, removing the firearm from the immediate patient care area and placing it in a safe area, and ensuring that the firearm is monitored and untouched until police or security personnel arrive to secure it. Conclusions This educational intervention is the first to formally teach students about the safe handling of firearms found in the clinical care space. This low-cost pilot project is easily transferrable to other training centers for teaching principles of safe firearms handling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E116-E122
JournalSimulation in Healthcare
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Firearms safety
  • assessment
  • firearms injury
  • undergraduate medical education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Epidemiology
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Modeling and Simulation


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