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As a doctor, Iím going to keep asking about guns
KevinMD ^ | 8/9/12 | Suzanne Koven, MD

Posted on 08/13/2012 2:25:34 AM PDT by Slings and Arrows

Let’s set aside for the moment the question of whether it’s appropriate to talk about gun control in the wake of the shootings in Aurora, Colorado (though I can’t think of a more appropriate time to talk about it). And let’s not consider whether it makes sense that it’s legal to buy thousands of rounds of ammunition on-line in the U.S, without any background check (though could it, really?) And let’s 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 I’m 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 ask–and I ask them routinely, especially of new patients–that 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 don’t 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. That’s seven times as many as die of cervical cancer, and nearly as many as die from pancreatic cancer annually.

It’s seems to me difficult to argue that health professionals shouldn’t 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 doctor’s political views into the patient’s medical visit and an invasion of the patient’s 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 don’t own any. This isn’t 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 it’s possible that some patients don’t 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 hadn’t occurred to him, until I asked, that his firearms might be a hazard to those children.

I’m 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 wouldn’t 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


TOPICS: Government; Health/Medicine; Society
KEYWORDS: 2012; 2ndamendment; banglist; democrats; fascistphysicians; guncontrol; liberalfascism; obamacare; secondamendment
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Arrogant enough for you?
1 posted on 08/13/2012 2:25:42 AM PDT by Slings and Arrows
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To: Slings and Arrows

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.


2 posted on 08/13/2012 2:30:12 AM PDT by broken_arrow1 (I regret that I have but one life to give for my country - Nathan Hale "Patriot")
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To: Slings and Arrows

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?


3 posted on 08/13/2012 2:38:46 AM PDT by UncleHambone ("Laughter is America's most important export." - Walt Disney)
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To: Slings and Arrows

“As a doctor, I’m going to keep asking about guns”

You do that, darlin’,...and I will make damn sure I stay out of your office.


4 posted on 08/13/2012 2:42:21 AM PDT by MestaMachine (obama kills)
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To: Slings and Arrows
Arrogant enough for you?

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...

5 posted on 08/13/2012 2:48:07 AM PDT by who knows what evil? (G-d saved more animals than people on the ark...www.siameserescue.org.)
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To: Slings and Arrows

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.


6 posted on 08/13/2012 2:56:13 AM PDT by TADSLOS (Conservatism didn't magically show up in Romney's heart in 2012. You can't force what isn't in you.)
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To: Slings and Arrows

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.


7 posted on 08/13/2012 2:56:29 AM PDT by joethedrummer
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To: Slings and Arrows
As someone pointed out on another thread, a good return question from the patient would be “Do you have any malpractice claims against you? What are the details?”
8 posted on 08/13/2012 2:58:37 AM PDT by Truth29
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To: Slings and Arrows
Let’s set aside for the moment.... And let’s not consider whether it makes sense that it’s legal

your argument lost within the first 15 seconds

9 posted on 08/13/2012 3:04:08 AM PDT by Doogle ((USAF.68-73..8th TFW Ubon Thailand..never store a threat you should have eliminated))
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To: who knows what evil?

I lived in Massholechusetts for a while. Never again.


10 posted on 08/13/2012 3:06:37 AM PDT by Slings and Arrows (You can't have IngSoc without an Emmanuel Goldstein.)
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To: Slings and Arrows

Just driving thru Massachusetts from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ gives me the creeps...


11 posted on 08/13/2012 3:08:33 AM PDT by who knows what evil? (G-d saved more animals than people on the ark...www.siameserescue.org.)
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To: Slings and Arrows

...hey Doc, why do you support abortion?


12 posted on 08/13/2012 3:09:50 AM PDT by Doogle ((USAF.68-73..8th TFW Ubon Thailand..never store a threat you should have eliminated))
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To: Slings and Arrows

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.


13 posted on 08/13/2012 3:12:03 AM PDT by MachIV
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To: Slings and Arrows

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.


14 posted on 08/13/2012 3:20:17 AM PDT by conservaterian (Sarah/DeMint '12-NOPE Cain?- Guess NOT. ABO & ABMR. I'm going Goode.)
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To: MachIV

It certainly has the potential to be stealth registration, at least.


15 posted on 08/13/2012 3:22:38 AM PDT by Slings and Arrows (You can't have IngSoc without an Emmanuel Goldstein.)
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To: MachIV

“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?”


16 posted on 08/13/2012 3:26:35 AM PDT by momtothree
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To: Slings and Arrows

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.


17 posted on 08/13/2012 3:27:15 AM PDT by Walrus (Restoring America starts today! Let's roll!)
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To: MachIV

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.”


18 posted on 08/13/2012 3:28:00 AM PDT by 41Thunder (The SUPPLY of Government is GREATER than the DEMAND of the people)
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To: Slings and Arrows
Guns homicides in the US are under 10,000 per year. That's a lot but a drop in the bucket compared to deaths caused by medical errors. Those are approaching 300,000 per year. This doctor could make better use of her time helping her colleagues polish their skills.
19 posted on 08/13/2012 3:31:31 AM PDT by Straight Vermonter (Posting from deep behind the Maple Curtain)
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To: Slings and Arrows

30,000 deaths from guns? Really?


20 posted on 08/13/2012 3:32:18 AM PDT by Vermont Lt (I just hate our government. All of them. Republican and Democrat.)
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