Friday, July 15, 2011

Physicians Argue Case Against Florida Law On Communication About Gun Ownership

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Lawyers representing doctors in Florida told a U.S. District Court judge this week that physicians have had to impose “self-censorship” on health-screening questionnaires and verbal exchanges with patients, because of a state law barring physicians from asking patients about gun ownership without compelling reasons.

Physicians say they face high fines or could lose their licenses if they warn families about the risks of keeping guns in homes or other places. The law says doctors and other healthcare practitioners “shall respect a patient’s right to privacy and should refrain” from asking about gun ownership or whether people have guns in their homes. Observers say litigation around the law may go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

At the annual policy making meeting of the AMA, AMA delegates approved a resolution opposing state or federal efforts to interfere in the content of communication in clinical care delivery between clinicians and patients. For coverage of this and other issues at the AMA, see upcoming editions of Psychiatric News. For coverage of the Florida state law, see Psychiatric News,,


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