Advice for Docs Who Start 'the Gun' Talk

MedPage Today, October 20, 2017

Talking about controversial issues can be risky.

This article first appeared October 16, 2017 on Medpage Today.

By Joyce Frieden

The American College of Physicians is asking doctors to commit to asking patients about guns and to be willing to add their names to list of colleagues who support this safety conversation initiative.

But do physicians who publicly commit to having this conversation -- or take public stands on other issues -- have to worry about retaliation from opponents, either online or otherwise?

To answer that question, MedPage Today turned to Ron Harman King, who produces the Wired Practice videos featured on MedPage Today.

"Overall, unless you're a celebrity, I'd say the chances of more than a handful of online attacks on most campaign participants are relatively small, and a participant may even find himself or herself gathering new supporters and advocates both online and off-line," said King, owner and CEO of Vanguard Communications, a healthcare marketing firm in Denver, in an email.

"The odds of protesters appearing outside a clinic are small to non-existent, particularly in urban areas," said King. "A clinic might possibly suffer an incidence of graffiti, but I'd be surprised by even that occurrence. If that happens, notify local law enforcement and have the graffiti removed as soon as possible."

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