I don’t know about you but my Primary Care Physician asks me questions that I NEVER want anyone else to ask. If someone else did ask, I’d likely not answer them. I do not, moreover, recall a time that I thought he was asking for any other reason than to do his job. If he were to ask me a suspicious question, I would have no problem asking him to clarify. We have a pretty good doctor-patient relationship. He is responsible for taking care of my health and I trust that he will answer my questions honestly. I think that it is important he be allowed to practice freely.
Did you see the news last week about a law that prevents doctors from asking about gun ownership in a child’s home? The Boston Globe reported on this. The thing is that when kids have access to guns, kids are more likely to be injured or to injure someone. Check this information about kids and guns from my alma matter.
It seems to me that pediatricians are probably the one of the few people who will have an opportunity to talk to families about guns and child safety. The conversations need to had. We aren’t always so good at thinking about what can go wrong. When someone responds to an admonishment that something is not safe with “no one will get hurt.” I have the same come back every time, “that is why it is called an accident.”
The data is overwhelming: when guns are around more people die from an accident, a suicide, or a homicide. The gun doesn’t care who has it or uses it or why. How can someone assess a child’s safety in the home without asking about guns? How does a doctor reiterate the importance of keeping guns locked or evaluate the chances that an impulsive teen will take a permanent action to solve a temporary problem.
I do not think that state law makers should EVER decide a standard of practice for medical care. I think Medical Boards and Medical Associations and scientific reviews should be the ones to hammer these issues out. Members of the medical profession are held to a standard of ethical practice that law makers are not. They are guided by the principles of medical practice and scientific foundations. Politicians are not bound by such standards. The guiding principles and priorities are clearly very very different.
One of the principles guiding physicians — that is legally mandated — is a duty to protect all patients from emminent risks to life. If I or your physician knows that someone wants to kill himself and has access to a gun, we can lose our license to practice, if we do not take steps to protect that person. It seems that Florida has set their physicians between a rock and a hard place.
It leaves me to wonder, what is so much more important than to be allowed to ask a question? Do we really collectively believe that it is that important not to talk about preventing violence?