Florida judge rejects ban on pediatricians asking patients about gun ownership

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Posted: 5:53 p.m. Monday, July 2, 2012

Judge rejects ban on pediatricians asking patients about gun ownership

By Dara Kam
Palm Beach Post Capital Bureau

Tallahassee —

A federal judge has permanently blocked a Florida law barring doctors from asking their patients about gun ownership, ruling the law unconstitutionally violates physicians’ freedom of speech.

U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke issued a permanent injunction Friday that barred the law from going into effect and rejected the state’s argument that the law was aimed at protecting gun owners from discrimination. Cooke had temporarily put the law on hold last year, after three groups of doctors sued Gov. Rick Scott within days after he signed the National Rifle Association-backed bill passed by the GOP-dominated legislature.

“This law chills practitioners’ speech in a way that impairs the provision of medical care and may ultimately harm the patient,” Cooke wrote in her 25-page ruling. “The State, through this law, inserts itself in the doctor-patient relationship, prohibiting and burdening speech necessary to the proper practice of preventive medicine, thereby preventing patients from receiving truthful, non-misleading information…. This it cannot do.”

Scott’s spokesman Lane Wright said the governor was considering his options.

Rep. Jason Brodeur, a Sanford Republican who sponsored the bill, and the Florida Senate’s general counsel, Craig Meyer, said they believed Scott would appeal.

Mobeen Rathore, president of the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said he hoped the case would be quickly resolved, for patients’ sake, “so we can continue our efforts to get them the best information, specifically preventive information to families for their children on this and all risk issues.”

The NRA and some gun owners complained that doctors were using questions about guns to discourage gun ownership. They cited the example of an Ocala pediatrician who told a couple to find a new doctor because the couple refused to answer questions about whether they owned guns and how they were stored.

But the judge chided the legislature for relying upon anecdotal evidence like that rather than empirical evidence of an alleged problem. And

lawyers for the Florida chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American College of Physicians argued that what they called the “physician gag law” prevented doctors from doing their job.

Doctors routinely ask patients about safety issues related to tobacco, drugs, alcohol, chemicals and swimming pools, Bruce Manheim of the Washington, D.C.-based law firm Ropes & Gray argued. “We think the court’s decision protects the sanctity of speech between a doctor and his or her patients and ultimately advances preventive medicine and protects the safety of children,” Manheim said.

Under the “Firearm Ownership Privacy Act,” doctors and other health care professionals would have faced fines and the loss of their licenses if they asked patients about guns in the home, “unless the practitioner in good faith believes the information is relevant to the patient’s medical care or safety or the safety of others.” The law also would have imposed sanctions if doctors “unnecessarily harass a patient about firearm ownership.”

But the anti-harassment language is too vague, Cooke ruled, and “does not provide fair notice as to what range of conduct it prohibits.”

The ruling drew praise from ACLU executive director Howard Simon. The ACLU filed an amicus brief on behalf of a group of healthcare and child welfare organizations, including the Palm Beach County Medical Society.

“The attempt to gag physicians and prevent them from practicing preventive medicine is an embarrassment for every legislator who voted to throw the First Amendment rights of medical personnel out the window based on a single and flimsy anecdotal report of an alleged problem. Could there be a clearer example of why the Florida legislature is held in such low esteem?” Simon said.

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/n...s-ban-on-pediatricians-asking-patients/nPkZf/
Disapproves...

 

MayrMeninoCrash

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SCOTUS didn't seem to have a problem with the same privacy clause being incorporated within PPACA. Maybe Florida should adopt it after all.
 

Stormrider666

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I still don't understand why a pediatrician would even ask that question in the first place.
 

Falldog

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I agree with the judge's decision.
 

Hate & Discontent

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I still don't understand why a pediatrician would even ask that question in the first place.
One of the big doctors associations was pushing for pediatricians to ask parents about firearms in the home, then push them to get rid of them, etc - even to the point of refusing to see patients who owned guns.
 

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I didn't know that children in Florida were allowed to own guns...........:action-sm
I didn't write the headline. But like WP said, it's some bullshit do-gooder doctor association meddling in gun laws. I guess I see the point in not barring docs from simply asking the question, but I'd find another doctor if he started asking stupid questions like that when he's giving my kid his measles vaccine.
 

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One of the big doctors associations was pushing for pediatricians to ask parents about firearms in the home, then push them to get rid of them, etc - even to the point of refusing to see patients who owned guns.
God forbid you own a gun as your pediatrician pumps your kid full of Ritalin because he's creative.

EDIT: Oh, wait. That's a shrink. You get the idea, though.

EDIT 2: If your doctor asks you if you own a gun, just say no. Why are you obligated to tell the truth to a non-medical question? Fuck him and his curiosity.
 

Hate & Discontent

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God forbid you own a gun as your pediatrician pumps your kid full of Ritalin because he's creative.

EDIT: Oh, wait. That's a shrink. You get the idea, though.

EDIT 2: If your doctor asks you if you own a gun, just say no. Why are you obligated to tell the truth to a non-medical question? Fuck him and his curiosity.
Nope, I've seen pediatricians prescribe Ritalin and such before, not just shrinks.

Unfortunately, the reports of doctors asking about guns in the home before giving parents a hard time was getting a bit wide-spread. I believe it was a state or national pediatric association that was telling their members to do it. Many of the medical associations out there are rabidly anti-gun, and some have cooperated with the Brady idiots on some anti-gun initiatives.

I didn't write the headline. But like WP said, it's some bullshit do-gooder doctor association meddling in gun laws. I guess I see the point in not barring docs from simply asking the question, but I'd find another doctor if he started asking stupid questions like that when he's giving my kid his measles vaccine.
What if it's someone in a small town, and the next closest doc is 30 miles away? 60? 100?

The root of the problem was doctors using their position to push an anti-gun agenda in an unethical manner. Not cool.
 

Stormrider666

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God forbid you own a gun as your pediatrician pumps your kid full of Ritalin because he's creative.

EDIT: Oh, wait. That's a shrink. You get the idea, though.

EDIT 2: If your doctor asks you if you own a gun, just say no. Why are you obligated to tell the truth to a non-medical question? Fuck him and his curiosity.
Pretty much. Here is the scenario:

Pediatrician: "Do you own a gun?"
Patient's parent: "No".
 

Neon

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Iit's some bullshit do-gooder pharmacist association meddling in abortion laws. I guess I see the point in not barring pharmacists from not carrying Plan B, but I'd find another pharmacy if they stopped selling selling it.
Hmmm... Funny how that wasn't an excuse then but it is now. :icon_cool
 

Neon

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Pretty much. Here is the scenario:

Pediatrician: "Do you own a gun?"
Patient's parent: "No".
I'd go with "Not that it's any of your business, but no," personally.

EDIT: Hmm, that got me thinking. The doctors want to refuse treatment if you own a gun, but will they refuse treatment if you refuse to answer the question? That's getting in to some weird grey territory. So now a doctor can ask you whatever question he wants and refuse treatment if you don't answer or give him an answer he doesn't like?
 

Party Rooster

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Hmmm... Funny how that wasn't an excuse then but it is now. :icon_cool
What if it's someone in a small town, and the next closest doc is 30 miles away? 60? 100? :icon_cool

I was actually thinking of this in an abortion debate frame. In red states it's ok for "the state" to ask extra questions, determine their mental state, and force women to look at ultrasounds, etc. But at least you can lie about owning a gun to a doctor, kinda hard to deny you're pregnant to one...
 

Neon

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What if it's someone in a small town, and the next closest doc is 30 miles away? 60? 100? :icon_cool

I was actually thinking of this in an abortion debate frame. In red states it's ok for "the state" to ask extra questions, determine their mental state, and force women to look at ultrasounds, etc. But at least you can lie about owning a gun to a doctor, kinda hard to deny you're pregnant to one...
Yeah, WP's post is what got me thinking along those lines. :)

But it's hardly the same thing. Showing you an ultrasound of the baby you are going to abort is pertinent to the nature of the medical issue. The only way gun ownership would be relevant is if your kid was allergic to gun oil, or if he had a bullet wound. In any case, I would argue that if this is legal than you should absolutely take your business elsewhere. I just don't think it's kosher to begin with. The only questions a doctor should be able to ask you are questions directly related to your health.
 

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Yeah, last time I checked refusing to treat a patient is against the Hippocratic oath. Only a shitbag would refuse to treat a patient.
 

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Fuck you you nosy body.
 

CaffeeDiva

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From what I understand, even if the law passed, a Doctor could still deny you care if they knew through some other means that you own a gun. So a racist restaurant owner has to serve black people food but a doctor can deny care based on politics?
 

KRSOne

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Government and healthcare merging. They can ask whatever they want but I should also not have to give them business. We are on the track of government telling us what doctors we can and can't see so that may not be a option in the future.

They should put up a big sign that says we hate freedom and the constitution, I'm sure a few yuppies would still give them business. The same with restaurants that don't want to serve certain races or religions, put up a big sign that says no jews or no blacks and let the free market decide if they stay open. A lot of libs do hate the constitution so that doctor would probably still get a lot of business. In most areas the restaurant would probably close down from lack of business
 

MayrMeninoCrash

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Government and healthcare merging. They can ask whatever they want but I should also not have to give them business. We are on the track of government telling us what doctors we can and can't see so that may not be a option in the future.

They should put up a big sign that says we hate freedom and the constitution, I'm sure a few yuppies would still give them business. The same with restaurants that don't want to serve certain races or religions, put up a big sign that says no jews or no blacks and let the free market decide if they stay open. A lot of libs do hate the constitution so that doctor would probably still get a lot of business. In most areas the restaurant would probably close down from lack of business
Has anyone actually been denied care because they said "Yes I own a gun" or is this just more Alex Jones scaremongering to the rubes?
 

Neon

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Has anyone actually been denied care because they said "Yes I own a gun" or is this just more Alex Jones scaremongering to the rubes?
Has any woman had an unwanted baby because a pharmacist refused to sell her Plan B?

Trust me, I'm not defending Kirk. I'm just saying that "nobody's been affected YET" is not really an argument. It's still a potential problem.
 

MayrMeninoCrash

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Has any woman had an unwanted baby because a pharmacist refused to sell her Plan B?
A lot of women have been denied Plan B by the Pharmacist. A Google search reveals plenty of stories. Whether these went on to become pregnancies or not probably depends on a lot of irrelevant factors.

Can you find a similar experience where a gun owner was denied care?
 

Neon

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A lot of women have been denied Plan B by the Pharmacist. A Google search reveals plenty of stories. Whether these went on to become pregnancies or not probably depends on a lot of irrelevant factors.

Can you find a similar experience where a gun owner was denied care?
Like I said, that isn't the point. Just because it hasn't happened YET doesn't mean the issue of a pediatrician asking you if you own a gun isn't a problem.

EDIT: And just for the record, the ban was originally introduced because a couple complained that their doctor refused treatment because of gun ownership.
 

MayrMeninoCrash

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Like I said, that isn't the point. Just because it hasn't happened YET doesn't mean the issue of a pediatrician asking you if you own a gun isn't a problem.
If no doctor ever has made a decision regarding medical care based on how a patient answered that question, why should we believe that there will be a flood of problem going forward? Shouldn't we be equally as worried that a doctor might deny care if we say we keep alcohol in the house or smoke cigarettes around children?