Doctor's In: Docs vs Glocks HB 155 Will Further Embarrass the Scott Administration

A Law prohibiting doctors from speaking to patients about guns is just plain stupid! The judges ruling to bar law should stand.

Still reeling from the flawed Tuberculosis investigation and premature closing of Florida’s only TB hospital, the Scott administration is about to walk into another public relations disaster: Docs vs Glocks, HB155.

The political party that rails about protecting interference between doctor and patient passed a bill that severly punishes doctors if they asked patients about their guns.  Pushed by the National Rifle Association, the law trashes doctor’s first amendment rights but dubiously argues second amendment gun rights as justification for the bill.

A wise judge blocked the Docs vs Glocks bill claiming, “The state’s arguments rest on a legislative illusion.” Wisely, Scott should have let the Bill die right there but no one could ever accuse Scott of wisdom.

Sadly, the Florida Medical Association, well known for its conservative leanings, accepted the Bill’s final version. Members should take note.  Many other medical organizations, such as Florida Pediatric Society, the Florida Academy of Family Physicians and the American College of Physicians are appalled by the implications for practicing physicians and want a reversal of this misguided Bill.

But the Scaott administration has challenged the ruling. The appeal is being let by none other than the Florida’s Health Department’s Surgeon General, the recently appointed Dr. John Armstrong.  In all fairness to Armstrong he is being placed in that position because it is the Health Department that would enforce the bill should the appeal succeed.

Gun violence is so frequent that as a nation we are becoming immune to the tragedies. Not so for the victims and their families.  Recently, the shooting inside the Wisconsin Sikh Temple, and less than a month prior the Colorado movie massacre, rivets our attention to the dangers of armed deranged persons walking community streets.

It would seem prudent to allow physicians to discuss firearms with patients if they think the subject is relevant. Such a conversation might prevent a tragedy. A law barring such a discussion is dead wrong.

I can appreciate the governor angling for continued support from the National Rifle Association. All politicians appreciate such financial support from lobbyists.  But I must ask the governor and legislators who support the Docs vs Glocks bill, what are you thinking?


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Marc J. Yacht MD, MPH August 15, 2012 at 11:33 PM
Mark: I appreciate your comments. I can't imagine you would support surpressing identified mentally ill worrying their doctors what they might do with a gun due to a disturbed mental state. But it takes all kinds. Doctor patient relationships are sacred. No law should stand between a doctor and his patient. Marc
Mark S. Hankins August 16, 2012 at 01:16 PM
We are repeatedly told by every official advocacy group and media organ in sight that the mentally ill are no more likely to be violent than anyone else. You can't have it both ways. If they're the same as everyone else, there's no need to single them out. If they're different, then there's no need to question the general public. Which way is it?
Marc J. Yacht MD, MPH August 16, 2012 at 03:23 PM
You're missing the point, a law has been passed that would interfere with a doctor talking to his patient (currently blocked). Forget Doctors, when laws are made telling anyone what they can discuss with anyone else you are on a slippery slope toward Fascism on one extreme and communism on the other.! Usually Doctors would be the last in line for such restrictions - TALK ABOUT A LEAP AHEAD.... Your argument borders on illusions and represents a problem that defenders have of such a silly law, they just have to have the last word. I look forward to your response. Again, thanks for your comments.
Mark S. Hankins August 16, 2012 at 04:07 PM
As an attorney, I am an "officer of the court" ... since the court is a governmental entity, I am in effect beholden to the government. Nonetheless, if the ABA told me that I should ask all my clients whether they had guns and notate my records accordingly so that the authorities could be informed as necessary, i would consider it a grotesque intrusion on attorney-client privilege. I know for a fact that doctors routinely shirk their duties regarding patients who perhaps should not be driving by purposefully *avoiding* asking questions that would elicit a response indicating that the patient still drives. The profit motive of maintaining a thriving practice by not having word get around that one causes licenses to get yanked trumps the public health objective of not having 97-year-olds take out entire bus shelters full of people. However misguided the anti-questioning law is, one must recognize that it is a response to an equally misguided and intrusive policy choice by the AMA. It is not freedom of speech to question a patient about guns in the home, it is in fact the misuse of a quasi-public official (a doctor) to violate the spirit, if not the letter of the Fourth Amendment whilst trying to chill the Second Amendment. Doctors are free to inveigh against the evils of guns if that's their choice, but I don't think they ought to be asking "have you got any?" and notating their charts accordingly.
Marc J. Yacht MD, MPH August 16, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Thank you for your comments. We agree to disagree. MJY


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