FL Primary Care Docs Battle 'Gun Gag' Law
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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