There have been laws passed on this subject in Florida, always to the great consternation of liberals and gun control advocates, but it remains an open question in much of the country. Should your doctor be asking you during the course of a routine check-up whether or not you or any family members have a gun in your house?
And what if they do just come out and ask? Ben Guarino at the Washington Post brings us some information about a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine which suggests that nothing should hold doctors back from inquiring. You know… just for your own good.
“Firearm violence is an important health problem, and most physicians agree that they should help prevent that violence,” wrote Garen J. Wintemute, a public health expert at the University of California Davis and co-author of the paper, in an email to The Washington Post. In the literature review, which doubles as a call-to-arms, the authors conclude it is neither illegal nor unreasonable to ask patients about gun safety.
“No federal or state law prohibits doctors from asking about firearms, counseling about their use, and — when there is imminent risk of harm — disclosing information to others who can help,” Wintemute said. Several states have mulled statutes similar to Florida’s, but none of the proposed bills have passed.
“Physicians seek to prevent important health problems at the individual and population levels,” Wintemute and his colleagues write. “They inquire and counsel—routinely in some cases, selectively in others—about a wide range of health-related behaviors and conditions. In certain circumstances, they disclose otherwise confidential information to third parties to limit the risk an affected person poses to others.
That’s followed by much more of the same propaganda. The typical excuses are offered in terms of some vague responsibility to public health or evaluating risk. In a kinder, gentler world I might even agree with many of the points being made if the intersection between actual medical care and the government were a bit more distinct. Sadly, that’s not the world we live in. The reality is that this is a decision which comes down to your own comfort level and your relationship with your doctor.