A Crime For Doctors to Ask About Guns?

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"There's nothing in the bill that would prevent a safety discussion about firearms like medical personnel would for swimming pools, chemicals or any other potential hazard," Brodeur said. "The bill only states that medical personnel can't ask about firearm ownership directly, record the answer or condition treatment upon the response."

Brodeur said he's heard of people being told it is a Medicaid requirement that they disclose the lawful presence of firearms in their home.

"If the overreaching federal government actually takes over health care, they're worried that Washington, D.C., is going to know whether or not they own a gun and so this is really just a privacy protection," Brodeur told Florida's News-Press.com.

"There are many safeguards in the law to protect the confidentiality of medical information, including HIPAA, so I really think this is an unrealistic concern," Groshek said. "But if this is truly a concern, I don't think the answer is to prevent pediatricians from doing their jobs. Legislators could always pass laws that further restrict the ability of the government to access this information."

An estimated 41 percent of gun-related homicides and 94 percent of gun-related suicides would not occur without access to guns, according to a 2002 study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

"Physicians should continue to discuss with patients the implications of keeping guns at home," wrote study author Douglas Wiebe, assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Pennsylvania Center for Public Health Initiatives, adding that additional studies are warranted to "better understand the implications of firearm ownership."

The National Rifle Association has been accused of obstructing firearms research by blocking funding through the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

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