A federal appeals court has affirmed that Florida can ban doctors and psychiatrists from asking their patients any questions about whether or not they own guns, reports Psychiatric News.
According to Psychiatric News, the American Psychiatric Association and American Medical Association had argued to the court that “asking about gun ownership and the presence of guns in the home is an important health-related screening tool, similar to asking about substances of abuse, smoking, and eating habits.”
Though no patient was obligated to answer their physicians’ questions, Psychiatric News reports that the court stated that, when a patient enters a physician’s examination room, “the patient is in a position of relative powerlessness… [and must] submit to the physician’s authority.” Therefore, the majority of the appeals court panel ruled that the Florida law banning such questions “simply codifies that good medical care does not require inquiry or record keeping regarding firearms when unnecessary to a patient’s care… Any burden the Act places on physician [freedom of] speech is thus entirely incidental.”
Court Upholds Ban on Doctors Discussing Gun Ownership (Psychiatric News,
August 29, 2014. DOI: 10.1176/appi.pn.2014.9a12)