Bill Would Prohibit Doctors From Asking About Guns

Texas Tribune – by Edgar Waters

While legislation expanding how and where Texans can carry weapons is dominating the Legislature this week, one state lawmaker is targeting the doctor’s office as a place to keep the federal government from learning who owns guns.

Over the objections of the medical community, state Rep. Stuart Spitzer, R-Kaufman, has filed a bill that would prohibit doctors from asking patients whether they own a firearm and makes the Texas Medical Board, which licenses physicians, responsible for doling out punishment.  

“Pediatricians are asking children away from their parents, ‘Do you have guns in your house?’ and then reporting this on the electronic health records, and then the federal government, frankly, has access to who has guns and who doesn’t,” Spitzer said in a recent interview. He said he experienced the phenomenon firsthand when he took his daughter to the doctor, who asked her whether there were any guns in the house.

Spitzer, a surgeon, said he wanted to make sure that doctors “have the right not to ask that.”

But doctors’ groups say House Bill 2823 would squelch important discussions that are part of the physician-patient relationship.

“We, as physicians, ask all sorts of questions — about bike helmets and seat belts and swimming pool hazards, dangerous chemicals in the home, sexual behaviors, domestic violence. I could go on and on,” said Gary Floyd, a Fort Worth pediatrician and board member of the Texas Medical Association.

“All of that’s geared mainly to how we should direct our advice,” he said. “As a pediatric [emergency room] doc, one of the worst things you have to do is sit down with the family and explain that the child has died, or may never be the same, because of an unintended gunshot wound.”

Spitzer said his bill would still allow psychiatrists, who are more likely to encounter suicidal patients, to ask about gun ownership. But for most physicians, he said, asking about gun ownership is “not appropriate.” He suggested they could instead ask more “open-ended” questions about a person’s means to harm himself.

Florida passed a similar law in 2011. Challengers, including the American Academy of Family Physicians, challenged the law in court arguing that it infringed on doctors’ free-speech rights. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta last year upheld the law as constitutional.

“The Act simply informs physicians that inquiring about a private matter irrelevant to medical care isn’t part of the practice of good medicine and that, as always, a physician may face discipline for not practicing good medicine,” Judge Gerald Tjoflat wrote in the majority opinion.

Spitzer’s bill was referred Monday to the House Public Health Committee.

This story was produced in partnership with Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

Disclosure: The Texas Medical Association is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

5 thoughts on “Bill Would Prohibit Doctors From Asking About Guns

  1. Hear!… Hear!….

    Make ANY disclosure of ANY information revealed during ANY discussion between a patient and doctor/medical care provider absolutely forbidden without express consent of the patient/parent; with penalties involving mandatory fines and imprisonment. This would mean NO allowance for “mandatory consent forms” signed before medical treatment would be rendered, and a “hat in hand” type of request made by any medical provider to allow use of one’s private information, with the expectation of a full disclosure as to why the information is being requested to be released, and exactly to what person or agency such information would be furnished. Any coercion to provide such information by any governmental or quasi-governmental or corporate structure MUST demand the person involved (not the agency or government structure) be remanded to prison for life.

    How’s that for seriously taking privacy as a real right, and not lip-service? It’s time we the people demand OUR rights be respected – at penalty to the corporation’s agents, who are the only living beings involved in any corporate activity. We HAVE to start holding the agents of the CORPORATION responsible for the actions they undertake at the behest of the faceless corporate masters.

  2. You already have rights Washington just seems they can erase them at the stroke of a pen. They Can’t and all should be thrown in Prison for Treason. Look at Jade Helm 15 looks like things going to happen here in Texas

  3. Also I would like to add
    No minor child should ever be asked any ANY questions without a parent or legal guardian in the room
    No matter the question or reason for the question
    No minor child should ever be alone in a room with the door closed without their parent or guardian
    If this event takes place
    Immediate revocation of medical license and immediate closing of the doctors practice should insue

    We as parents are to be intrusted with our children’s safety and well being
    There are quacks as Dr’s out there
    That might try a ” medical procedure” on your child that could violate their person , and on the premise of an exam
    The kid doesn’t know they are being violated
    NO exams or interactions of Dr’s and minors without the child’s parents in the room
    Failure of this =immediate actions

  4. He’s welcome to ask about the gun I bring to the doctor’s office. It’s for protection against “mandatory vaccinations”.

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