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Should physicians be allowed to ask, “Do you keep a gun at home?”

Posted by Jean Silver-Isenstadt, MD, PhD, NPA Executive Director April 28, 2011 at 12:58 PM

On April 26, in a party-line vote of 88-30, the Florida House passed HB 155, which aims to restrict what kind of conversations doctors can have with patients about firearms. The proposal now goes to the state Senate, where it has a companion measure (SB 432).  Read more about this controversial legislation, then share your thoughts in our comments section below.

WHAT DO  YOU THINK?…

Should physicians be allowed to ask, “Do you keep a gun at home?”

To what extent should government have the right to restrict communication between doctors and patients?

7 Responses to “Should physicians be allowed to ask, “Do you keep a gun at home?””

  1. None. And let’s not forget how many gun owners accidentally wind up shooting a member of the family.

  2. Physicians can-and must-ask about anything that can impact their patients health. And let’s not forget how many gun owners accidentally wind up shooting a member of the family.
    So, no restrictions.

  3. Mark Ryan, MD says:

    Of course, physicians need to address guns in the home. Childhood safety, risk of violence (suicide, domestic abuse, etc) require us to ask. To penalize physicians–much less threaten jail time and/or fines–for good medical care is absurd.

  4. Jonas Green says:

    It is preposterous to suggest that there is anything physicians should not be ABLE to ask about. Patients are, of course, at liberty to choose whether to answer, and a very few other questions may be inappropriate (e.g. non-contextual sexually inappropriate questions).

    Many MDs begin discussions about domestic violence by asking: ‘Do you feel safe at home?’ Either by the law’s design, or by a patient’s misinterpretation, might such a question run risk of being afoul of this ill-conceived law?

    Legal limitations on any questions that have bearing on patient health sets a dangerous precedent.

  5. Yavar Moghimi says:

    As a psychiatrist, you would be negligent if you did not ask if a patient owned a gun at home, especially in rural areas where the suicide rate is higher BECAUSE so many people own a firearm at home. This is ridiculous that the Florida House is trying to intrude in the private space between a physician and a patient.

  6. Rebecca Jones MD says:

    If politicians are taking up the issue of what we talk about in the privacy of our exam rooms, it is a reminder that we need to reiterate the sanctity of the doctor patient relationship, and our obligation to preserve the health and welfare of our patients. Remember the furor over doctors calling patients obese? And now look where we are! Guns have the potential to impact health, and therefore the subject must be within our purview.

  7. Abbe Penziner, MD, FAAP says:

    Agreed with all of the above comments. I feel particularly inclined to respond at this time because yesterday I learned of a 10-year old child in a medically induced coma after having been accidentally shot at home by an adult family member (both individuals known to my family). This legislation has no business to intrude upon any and all necessary doctor-patient conversations that may serve to prevent this kind of devastating outcome.

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