Talking With Patients about Guns? Show Some Respect
Caught in the middle of an ongoing political debate over gun control in the U.S., physician counseling on firearm safety has been placed under scrutiny. While no states require physicians to offer firearm counseling to their patients, several states have proposed or enacted so-called "gag laws" forbidding doctors from doing so. The most recent revision of Florida's gag law restricts "irrelevant inquiry and record-keeping" related to firearms, but it also states that doctors may counsel patients on firearm safety if they believe "in good faith ... that such information is relevant to the patient's medical care or safety, or the safety of others."
Yet the exceptions in Florida's gag law "do not extend to well children," said Denise Dowd, MD, MPH, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and emergency physician at Children's Mercy in Kansas City, Mo. To help keep her patients safe, she advises gun-owning parents to store their firearms separately from ammunition, ideally in a location that is inaccessible to children.
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