More Fallout From Doctors on Florida Gun Law Ruling

gunsPhysician groups are speaking out about Friday’s decision by a U.S. Court of Appeals that upholds a Florida law prohibiting doctors from speaking to their patients about guns. Reid Blackwelder, MD, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, said:
“Safety and injury prevention are crucial components of preventive medical care. Firearms education has been shown to decrease the likelihood of unintentional injury or death. The presence of firearms in the home, when improperly stored, can present a health danger to patients and others. Physicians must be free to have open and honest communication with patients about all aspects of health and safety.

Make no mistake —this issue is much bigger than guns or gun ownership. This is about governmental intrusion on the patient/physician relationship. Laws that infringe on this relationship put the patient and their family’s health at risk. Physicians should not be prohibited by law or regulation from discussing with or asking their patients about any risk factors that may negatively impact their health.”

Robert M. Wah, M.D., president of the American Medical Association, added:

“This law poses real harm to patients as it interferes with physicians’ ability to deliver safe care, and hinders patients’ access to the most relevant information available. Behind the closed doors of an exam room, physicians routinely ask patients many very personal questions and provide medical advice about their sexual behavior, alcohol and drug use, domestic violence, and other sensitive issues.

The AMA strongly believes the patient-physician relationship must be protected, because physicians provide appropriate treatment options based on open, honest and confidential communications with their patients. In addition to putting patients in harm’s way, the Florida Privacy of Firearm Owners Act infringes on a physician’s right to free speech and puts physicians in the untenable position of risking disciplinary consequences or abandoning ethical obligations.”

Previously, James M. Perrin, MD, FAAP, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said of the decision:

“This law has a chilling effect on life-saving conversations that take place in the physician’s office. More than 4,000 children are killed by guns every year. In this case, a simple conversation can prevent a tragedy. The evidence is overwhelming – young children simply cannot be taught to overcome their curiosity about guns, and to suggest otherwise is, frankly, the height of irresponsibility.”

(Photo by Lisa Roe via Flickr)

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