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FL Primary Care Docs Battle 'Gun Gag' Law

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, June 13, 2011

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that there were 31,224 firearms-related fatalities in the United States in 2007. That includes 2,251 firearms-related deaths of children ages 18 and younger – more than six youth fatalities each day. CDC estimates that there were 69,863 firearms-related injuries, including 12,371 firearms-related injuries of children ages 18 or younger in 2007.

The Florida Medical Association dropped its opposition to the bill when the NRA agreed to remove penalties that included up to five years in prison and up to a $5 million fine. Now a physician accused of violating the law will be required to go before a physician review board, and could face loss of license if they're found guilty, Cosgrove says. 

Even with the weaker penalties, Cosgrove says the law goes against the practice of preventive care. "Physicians play a key role in counseling patients regarding the risk of accidental or intentional injury," she says. "It is a major health hazard facing adults and children. It is best practice to minimize those risks. As part of preventive care, doctors routinely ask about potential risks such as 'does your pool have a fence around it? Do you put up your chemicals away from your kids? Is your child buckled in a seat belt?' This is just another part of the preventive care we do."

Hammer rejects suggestions that the law chills free speech, or interferes with the patient-physician relationship. "They can consult with their patients on medical care and issues that directly affect the medical care and the health and safety of the patients," she says. "They don't get to ask anything and everything they want to ask. They have no business asking a patient how much money they have in their checking account. They have no business asking if they have expensive jewelry or what cars they drive. Your personal private property is nobody else's business. If they want to ask about seat belts they certainly can. Seat belts are not protected by the constitution."

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1 comments on "FL Primary Care Docs Battle 'Gun Gag' Law"


Tom (7/30/2011 at 1:18 PM)
I would think that office visits are short enough without having to expend time discussing patients personal non-medical situations in an attempt to push forth a Medical Association agenda. Even the general questions about pool covers or seat belts is irrelevant to the patient's treatment and we have the National Safety Council to address those issues - www.nsc.org . The physician is there to administer "Medical Treatment" and offer advice directly related to the condition of the patient. Physicians should not have the right nor the inclination to "Pry" into the private lives of patients or their families - it is a blatant disregard for patient privacy. If I have a intestinal problem why should the physician ask me if I own a gun? Hammer is correct in pointing out the failure of physicians to properly treat patients in cases that result in the deaths of over 100,000 yearly. Perhaps if physicians spent more time focusing on the patient's illness instead of consentrating on their "gun ban agenda" they would reduce the number of patient deaths due to "medical errors" significantly. The good intention of the medical profession is clearly overshadowed by it's failure to enact real change. They are not going to reduce or eliminate gun ownership by intruding their agenda on a per patient basis. It is clearly a bandaid approach to a hemmoraging problem. Anti-gun activists have been at it for years and nothing has changed. The only time a discussion about guns should take place between the physician and patient is when the patients initiate a concern about themselves or a family member in regard to depression or any number of mental disorders which may contribute to a irrational decision to use a gun as a solution. While there may be some patients that view the physician's inquiry as caring, Im sure there are many others who feel intruded upon and violated.