Those Privacy-invading Pediatricians, Silenced!

May 10, 2011
Dinah Miller, MD

Florida may become the first state to prohibit doctors from asking patients, or their parents, if they own guns.

The following was originally posted to the HCPLive network blog Shrink Rap.

A while back, Roy blogged about proposed legislation in Florida that would make it illegal for physicians to ask patients if they own guns. What the??? Since when do we legislate what people can ask each other, outside of discrimination issues for jobs? And is there any precedent for legislating the conversation that occurs between a doctor and patient? So apparently this is going to pass, and Greg Allen writes in "Florida Bill Could Muzzle Doctors on Gun Safety,"

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is expected to sign a bill that will make the state the first in the nation to prohibit doctors from asking patients if they own guns. The bill is aimed particularly at pediatricians, who routinely ask new parents if they have guns at home and if they're stored safely.

Pediatricians say it's about preventing accidental injuries. Gun rights advocates say the doctors have a political agenda.

Ah, it's not about us shrinks, it's okay to ask if there is a question of danger. It's about the pediatricians. Personally, I think the pediatricians should fight back: if they can't ask who owns a gun and target their gun safety remarks, they should give extensive gun safety instructions and literature to everyparent at every visit. Perhaps as a statement of unity, all pediatricians in all states should discuss gun safety with every patient, no questions asked.