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 Doctor's office not the place for anti-gun politics

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PostSubject: Doctor's office not the place for anti-gun politics   Tue Feb 01, 2011 4:33 am

Doctor's office not the place for anti-gun politics


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January 31, 2011|By Timothy Wheeler

Do you own a gun? How many guns do you have? Do your children have access
to guns in your home? Did you know that having a gun in your home
triples your risk of becoming a homicide victim? These are
questions your doctor may ask you or your children as part of routine
physical examinations or questionnaires. These are ethical boundary
violations that violate privacy rights of patients and families. Gun-related
questions in doctors' offices are based on a medical political movement
against gun owners. That movement is led by the American Academy of
Pediatrics, although the AMA and other physician groups have launched
similar efforts against gun owners. Sometimes a doctor is right
to ask a patient about guns in the home. A mentally disturbed patient
who has expressed intent to do harm would be an example where such
intervention is justified. But in most cases, questions about guns do
not reflect a physician's concern about gun safety. Rather, they are
intended to prejudice impressionable and trusting children and their
parents into thinking that guns are somehow bad.

That political motive makes these questions ethically wrong. Any
doctor who asks them is committing a form of unethical conduct known as
an ethical boundary violation. And any doctor who commits an ethical
boundary violation should be disciplined.Patients who file
written complaints with respective state consumer agencies are rare,
compared to the number of patients whose rights are abused. Patients
fear retaliation from their doctors and medical staffs. Those fears are
not unfounded.Patients/families have been verbally abused and
chastised by doctors and medical staffs for refusing to answer gun
questions. Doctors have even denied care to children whose parents have
refused to be submissive to these ethical boundary privacy violations.In
reality, state agencies rarely do anything other than notifying a
doctor of a complaint — creating an even more hostile environment.Patients
and families shouldn't have to suffer in silence. They shouldn't be
intimidated or coerced into disclosing personal information about their
gun ownership to politically motivated doctors.Unethical doctors who abuse your trust to advance a political agenda against law-abiding gun owning families must be stopped.

Dr. Timothy W. Wheeler is director for Doctors for Responsible Gun
Ownership, a project of the Claremont Institute in Upland, Calif.

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