The horrific bomb threats against children’s hospitals must stop

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the AMA and the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) are asking US Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Department of Justice to investigate the growing threats of violence against doctors, hospitals and children’s families to provide and search based on evidence of gender-affirming care.

“Whether it’s newborns receiving intensive care, children being treated for cancer, or families accessing compassionate care for their transgender adolescent, all patients seeking treatment deserve to receive the care they need without fear for their personal safety,” said AAP President Moira Silagi, MD, PhD.

“We cannot stand by while threats of violence against our members and their patients circulate with little consequence,” said Dr. Szilagyi. “We urge the Department of Justice to investigate these attacks and social media platforms to reduce the spread of misinformation that enables them.”

The AAP and AMA collectively represent more than 270,000 physicians and medical students, while the CHA represents more than 220 children’s hospitals nationwide. The organizations wrote to Garland (PDF) calling for “swift action to investigate and prosecute all responsible organizations, individuals and entities.”

Learn about the AMA’s policy on the need to protect physicians and other health care workers in society.

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“People in all workplaces have the right to a safe environment that is safe and free from intimidation or retaliation,” said AMA President Jack Resneck Jr., Ph.D. “As physicians, we condemn groups that promote hate-motivated intolerance and toxic misinformation that can lead to serious violence and extremism in the real world and jeopardize patient health outcomes.

“The AMA will continue to work with federal, state and local law enforcement officials to develop and implement strategies that protect hard-working, law-abiding physicians and other healthcare workers from senseless acts of violence, abuse and intimidation,” Dr. Resneck added .

In their letter to Garland, the organizations said they are “committed to the full spectrum of patient care, from prevention to critical care. We support doctors, nurses, mental health professionals and other health professionals who provide evidence-based health care, including gender-affirming care, to children and adolescents.

Read Dr. Resneck’s column with AMA leadership perspectives on why everyone deserves quality medical care delivered without bias.

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The AAP, AMA and CHA are also calling on tech platforms to do more to stop the rhetoric, which often incites threats or acts of violence and has led to nationwide harassment campaigns, much of which targets children’s hospitals and doctors, and other health professionals who work there.

Twitter, TikTok and Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, can help prevent coordinated disinformation campaigns. Doctors and hospitals have asked the platforms to take bolder action when false information is shared about specific institutions and doctors. They also called on social media companies to implement safety and hateful behavior policies to stop putting patients, families, doctors and healthcare staff at risk.

“We are committed to providing a safe, supportive and inclusive health care environment for every child and family, and the clinicians and staff who are dedicated to the care of children,” said CHA President Amy Wimpey Knight. “Threats and acts of violence are not a solution or a substitute for civil dialogue on issues related to the health and well-being of a child or teenager. At CHA, we are committed to working across sectors to prevent misleading and inflammatory comments that lead to threats to people caring for patients.”

Learn more about social media companies’ obligation to address medical misinformation.

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