Doctors are currently reporting who has access to guns and who doesn’t based on patient answers to medical questionnaires
If one Texas lawmaker’s bill is passed, patients may have a few less questions to answer at the doctor’s office.
Stewart Spitzer (R-TX) has authored a bill which would essentially bar doctors from talking about guns with their patients. House Bill 2823 was introduced March 16th and not only prohibits doctors from asking if there are guns in the household, but also recommends doctors who continue to talk to patients about firearms be punished.
“Pediatricians are asking children away from their parents, ‘Do you have guns in your house?’ and then reporting this on the electronic health records, and then the federal government, frankly, has access to who has guns and who doesn’t,” Spitzer said in a recent interview about the proposed legislation. He said he experienced the phenomenon firsthand when he took his daughter to the doctor, who asked her whether there were any guns in the house.
While HB2823 has some parents breathing a sigh or relief, the medical community has had a far less enthusiastic reaction.
“We, as physicians, ask all sorts of questions—about bike helmets and seat belts and swimming pool hazards, dangerous chemicals in the home, sexual behaviors, domestic violence. I could go on and on,” Gary Floyd, a Fort Worth pediatrician and board member of the Texas Medical Association, in an interview with the Texas Tribune.
While the bill would allow doctors to discuss guns with patients deemed suicidal, Spitzer says that in most cases discussions about firearms are “not appropriate.” Spitzer, a surgeon, said he wanted to make sure that doctors “have the right not to ask that.”