Should doctors ask patients if they own guns? Currently,bans the federal government from using patient medical records to compile a list of gun owners. But following the Newtown, CT shootings, President Obama issued an executive order clarifying that “the Affordable Care Act [ObamaCare] does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.” The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) similarly encourages physicians to ask patients if they own firearms — in the name of protecting child safety. As a physician, I consider this advice misguided. Instead, physicians should not routinely ask patients whether they own guns, because it could compromise the integrity of the doctor-patient relationship. …
University of Chicago economics professor Steven Levitt has also warned about excessive fear mongering about gun ownership. In their best sellerFreakonomics, he and co-author Stephen Dubner note that a child is 100 times more likely to die in a swimming accident than a gun accident.
Yet the AAP does not tell parents to “NEVER bring your child to a swimming pool,” nor does it advocate “the strongest possible regulations of swimming pool ownership.” Rather, it recommends that parents supervise children around swimming pools and follow basic rules of water safety. The AAP correctly recognizes that a home swimming pool can be a genuine value to a family, provided that parents and children follow proper precautions. Similarly, a gun can be a genuine value to responsible homeowners, provided that parents and children follow proper precautions. …
A local colleague, Dr. Matthew Bowdish, has declared, “I will not undermine the Second or Fourth Amendment rights of any of my patients who are lawful gun owners. Nor will I record my patients’ gun ownership status in any medical records that could be accessed by government officials unless relevant to a specific medical issue.” This should be the credo of all freedom-loving physicians.
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