Asking Patients About Guns is a Loaded Question for Docs
As my son got older, the list got longer: Does he always wear a helmet when riding a bike? Do we use sunscreen? Does he know the rules about talking to strangers? Is there a gun in the house? Scratch that last question—I have never been asked it by my son's pediatrician. I have also never been asked that question by my own primary care physician. And chances are the question is foreign to you, too, as a patient and as a physician.
Few physicians discuss guns
In addition to its new recommendations for reducing gun-related injuries and death, the ACP also released a survey of 573 general internists, representative of the ACP membership. The findings concluded that 85% of internists believe gun-related injuries and deaths are a public health issue, yet most report they don't initiate these types of conversations.
The survey included five specific questions about how frequently physicians discuss gun-related issues. Only 3% say they always ask whether a patient has a gun in the home; 58% report never asking. When it comes to talking about ways to reduce the risk of a gun-related injury or death, 2% say they always have this conversation with patients, 21% say they do sometimes; and 77% reported never talking about it. The remaining questions garnered similar responses.
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