July 28, 2015
Appeals court upholds doctor-patient gun law
According to the article, “The law subjects healthcare providers to possible sanctions, including fines and loss of license, if they discuss or record information in a patient’s chart about firearms safety that a medical board later determined was not “relevant” or was “unnecessarily harassing.” The law did not define these terms.”
The law did not define these terms
It has been reported that U.S. Circuit Judge Gerald Tjoflat, the author of the majority opinion, understands that, in a patient at-risk for suicide, this might be a valid medical concern.
How about this case?
A fifteen year-old male who suffers from moderate-to-severe autism (or any other medical – psychiatric condition), takes Zoloft for aggressive behaviors, perseverates on violent video games, and doesn’t seem to grasp the line between fantasy and reality.
Would it be fair to say that a discussion by the physician with the parents about weapons in the home is appropriate?
The risk factors
- The patient’s sex.
- The person’s age.
- Medication(s) use. There is even a ‘Black Box’ warning on SSRIs about the increased possibility of suicide.
- The predilection for violent video games related to behaviors.
- The teen’s inability to discern reality vs. fantasy. When asked, “Who is your best friend,” for example, one patient responded with the name of person who he had never met.
- Constant bickering with parents over school.
- A loaded gun in the house.
Such a situation might be equally as valid when a patient experiences conditions other than ASD. Indeed, people ‘on the spectrum’ are probably less likely to act with outward aggression. Certainly, a discussion about elopement is absolutely a necessity in the face of autism, as are questions about a pool safety and the ability to swim.
Surely, there are a gaggle of gun-toting attorneys who can poke holes in my case. After all, I’m just a healthcare provider.
The lawyers representing the doctors got it wrong. This is not about the first amendment rights of physicians to discuss the issue of guns. This is about public safety. And, let’s face it, when it comes to vaccinations-for-all, as an example, there’s no problem protecting the herd.
Perhaps just as certain, is the possibility that, should a shooting death occur in this scenario, a lineup of litigators would appear on the radar screen, accusing the (ir)responsible doctor of not taking the obvious and necessary steps to prevent such a tragedy. “An Accident Waiting to Happen,” might be the headline.
This is an insane law that supports the NRA’s unyielding position about the rights of gun ownership. It is proof of how corrupted our system has become, due the superabundance of lobbying money.
Gun control is what we need, in the face all the senseless shooting deaths by too many young men, who obviously have mental challenges. However bizarre, it is a standing law that has now been upheld by the Florida Court of Appeals.
More information will be required to illuminate the holes that are created by this imprecise lawyer-speak.