No photo for this post. You can imagine why.

I’m a little stunned by the news that a politician in Florida is trying to stifle pediatricians from asking questions about guns in the home. My reaction is utterly predictable. Should I YELL IT or write it down or leave it up to your genius (and imagination)?

(silence)

The Skinny on the Florida Proposal:

  • Florida Rep. Jason Brodeur said “he has heard about a number of cases in which doctors asked about guns. He thinks the topic should be off-limits.”
  • Brodeur says he’s concerned about doctors asking patients about guns in the home. He’s concerned that information could get into the hands of the government or insurance companies.
  • Under the proposed legislation, a doctor could face a fine of up to $5 million or be sent to prison for up to five years for asking about guns in the home.

The idea of blocking the right to advocate for children is preposterous. Clearly pediatricians don’t like censorship, particularly when it gets in the way of protecting the lives of children. We don’t even like censorship from our patients; we like it when adolescents tell us the truth about having sex, doing drugs, and self-tattooing. We like it when parents tell us what truly keeps them up at night. Really. Transparency and a lack of censorship is an imperative ingredient in the doctor-patient relationship. The exam room is a space and place where you’re not faulted for telling the truth.

When the door is shut in exam room #4, many laws protect the privacy of what you say and do. That’s one of the benefits behind all the pomp around seeing doctors and nurses in a private room. If we didn’t ask questions that were private, or didn’t demand privacy for our patients and their exams, we could do this all so much more efficiently. But then think conveyor-belt-style-medicine, group visits, long lines, and I suppose, smaller bills. I mean why not?

Because as doctors, we may not get the truth. As patients, we may not feel comfortable or cared for. Ultimately health would suffer.

Frankly, pediatricians should abhor censorship. Censorship cripples their ability to advocate for the health and safety of their patients who often lack a voice to protect themselves.

I’ve been reading about the bill for a week. At first I wasn’t going to write about it. It seemed stunningly stupid. Now I suppose what I really wonder is, what do you think?

Is it possible a large group of parents support this? Am I way off?  I even suggest you should ask about guns before a play date.

Have you heard about this law? Is it possible my patients would prefer I didn’t ask about firearms? Haven’t you personally heard about children you know of getting shot (or shooting their mom) accidentally due to a misunderstanding about gun safety?

  • The AAP states that someone’s child is killed by a gun in a homicide, a suicide, or as a result of an unintentional injury every 2 hours.
  • 8 million children have access to firearms in the United States.

Shouldn’t we at least talk about this?

Please help me. Do you think there is an ounce of controversy in this bill? The proposal feels ludicrous. Am I wrong? Any Floridians reading this that have seen more media coverage? Does my upper-left-corner-of-the-US perspective leave me clueless?