Skip to comments.As a doctor, Iím going to keep asking about guns
Posted on 08/13/2012 2:25:34 AM PDT by Slings and Arrows
Lets set aside for the moment the question of whether its appropriate to talk about gun control in the wake of the shootings in Aurora, Colorado (though I cant think of a more appropriate time to talk about it). And lets not consider whether it makes sense that its legal to buy thousands of rounds of ammunition on-line in the U.S, without any background check (though could it, really?) And lets not revisit that old argument about people, and not guns, killing people (though millions of people, including evil and deranged people, do seem to live in countries with negligible amounts of gun violence).
What Im thinking about today is the role doctors and other health professionals do and should play in preventing the 30,000 deaths and many more injuries in which firearms are involved every year in the U.S.
Behind the closed doors of my exam room, I ask patients many very personal questions: about their sexual behavior, alcohol and drug use, domestic violence, and other sensitive issues.
But there are no questions I askand I ask them routinely, especially of new patientsthat meet with more surprise than these: Do you own any firearms? Do you keep them locked and inaccessible to children?
I believe the questions come as a surprise because people dont usually think of gun ownership as something about which a doctor would or should be concerned.
But according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, homicide, suicide, and accidents are among the top three causes of death for Americans ages 0-54, and these deaths often involve firearms-over 30,000 per year. Thats seven times as many as die of cervical cancer, and nearly as many as die from pancreatic cancer annually.
Its seems to me difficult to argue that health professionals shouldnt be as interested in the prevention of gun violence as in the prevention of other causes of death.
Yet, doctors role in counseling patients about the potential danger of firearms is controversial, as expressed in this exchange. Some see such counseling as no different than speaking with patients about safe sex, smoking, and exercise. Some see it as an inappropriate intrusion of the doctors political views into the patients medical visit and an invasion of the patients privacy.
This latter view was in the news last fall when a Florida law, subsequently overturned by a federal judge, banned doctors from counseling patients about firearms, and would have imposed fines or even jail time on, for example, pediatricians who inquired about safe storage of guns in homes where children live.
In my own practice, most patients I ask about guns tell me that they dont own any. This isnt surprising because Massachusetts has one of the lowest gun ownership rates of any state in the U.S. (and, as it happens, the lowest rate of gun-related deaths).
And its possible that some patients dont wish to discuss their gun ownership with me and choose not to answer my questions about it.
But occasionally I have a conversation such as I had not long ago with a man who lived alone and kept his loaded guns unlocked and accessible. Now and then his young nieces and nephews visited and it hadnt occurred to him, until I asked, that his firearms might be a hazard to those children.
Im going to keep asking about firearms, especially in regard to those at highest risk of harm from them: children, patients struggling with depression, patients with difficult family relationships.
As a doctor, why wouldnt I?
Suzanne Koven is an internal medicine physician who blogs at In Practice at Boston.com, where this article originally appeared. She is the author of Say Hello To A Better Body: Weight Loss and Fitness For Women Over 50.
Start by throwing out all the default tried-and-true arguments against gun control and what have you got left?...a rationalization for gun control.
There are also about 30,000 deaths per year from auto accidents. Does she ask her patients if they have a car? And do they keep their keys in a locked cabinet?
“As a doctor, Im going to keep asking about guns”
You do that, darlin’,...and I will make damn sure I stay out of your office.
Arrogance is quite common in the northeast...if the rest of the country would just understand that the people of New England know what's best; we would all be better off...
As a patient, I’m going to keep asking doctors about their medical malpractice cases anytime they inquire about guns as part of my health history.
Take away our guns and the crazies will use BOMBS.
I’d rather dodge a bullet, (which, by the way, I’ve NEVER had to do in my 50 years, have you?) than dodge an explosion and shrapnel.
These anti-gun morons fear these scenarios that really hardly happen to normal, law-abiding citizens. It’s like wanting to outlaw lightning because they’re afraid they ‘may’ be struck by it someday. Yet odds are, they don’t.
your argument lost within the first 15 seconds
I lived in Massholechusetts for a while. Never again.
Just driving thru Massachusetts from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ gives me the creeps...
...hey Doc, why do you support abortion?
I’ve decided if my doctor starts asking questions about this, I’m going to flat out lie about it every time and worry about the moral implications later. All this stuff is the camel’s nose under the tent to genocide and it’s not happening to me if I can help it.
How many of those supposed 30,000 are gang bangers popping each other? Chicago probably has at least a third of the national total. Ask the doctor if they have a gun at home to protect themselves from a crazed patient that they just really pissed off.
It certainly has the potential to be stealth registration, at least.
“I’m going to flat out lie about it every time...”
That’s what my husband and I do now. If you don’t essentially lie.. I am not sure what they do with the “data”. Does it go off to the government? Are you put on some sort of “list?”
Arrogant AND illogical.
Darlin’, you’re entitled to express an opinion, just like everyone else; but the fact that you’re a physician does not make that opinion better than everyone else’s.
I posted this on another thread some time ago. I went in for my annual checkup and was asked by my doctor if I have guns in the house. I got my doctor to quit asking me this stupid question by replying, “Nope, it’s hanging on the rack behind you.”
30,000 deaths from guns? Really?
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