By the decision of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, physicians in the state of Florida are once again allowed to question patients and their families about owning a firearm and record firearm information into their records.
The decision of the court, however, has left a provision intact that allows the patients and their families to refuse answering any questions pertaining to gun ownership. As well as, the patients and families being able to refuse any firearm discussion physicians cannot discriminate any patients solely based on a firearm status.
Before this change came into effect, in 2011 the Florida Firearm Owner’s Privacy Act was enacted. This law barred physicians from questioning their patients about firearms and from them recording any information about firearms into their records. The law was enacted after many complaints were made from patients that the physicians were inquiring about firearms and firearm safety and in some cases the physicians refused to provide a patient with care after their decline to answer.
Sometime after the law had passed a group of physicians and the ACP Florida Chapter sued the state while arguing that the law was violating physician’s free speech protections and that they are only trying to encourage firearm safety and make the patients and families aware of potential health and safety risks.
With that argument in the way the court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs stating that the right to own and bear arms does not preclude questions about, commentary on, or criticism for the exercise of that right. Which allows the physicians to ask patients and families about owning a firearm and giving them the choice to discuss or decline giving any information without the physician being able to refuse to give the patient healthcare depending on their choice.
The law was made to favor both the patients and the physicians but, the debate still stands for physicians concerned about the patients and their own safety and the risks of the patient having a firearm and the physician not being allowed to properly discuss the dangers and to maybe even prevent a future accident with a simple discussion.
All in all, a physician’s main concern is providing their patient with proper healthcare while maintaining a safe and secure environment for both them and the patient while respecting the patient’s rights.