This week, Florida lawmakers passed the controversial ‘Docs vs. Glocks‘ bill that restricts what questions doctors can ask patients about gun ownership. It now awaits Gov. Rick Scott’s signature. The legislation, also known as SB 432 and HB 155, is a watered-down version of the original bill – a compromise between the National Rifle Association and the Florida Medical Association.
But despite this agreement, the measure has divided the physician community.
The original bill would have fined physicians up to $5 million and sentenced them up to five years in prison for asking about patients’ gun ownership, refusing to treat patients who won’t answer such questions or entering gun ownership information into any record.
The amended bill allows physicians to ask patients questions about gun ownership and enter such information into a record if it is medically relevant, but it forbids doctors to discriminate against patients who own firearms.
“The FMA is satisfied that the current bill, with the compromise language, allows physicians to continue to look out for the safety and well-being of their patients,” said FMA Executive Vice President Tim Stapleton to American Medical News. “The FMA is also pleased that the compromise language removed all civil and criminal penalties related to the patient-physician relationship.”
But the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Florida Pediatric Society strongly oppose the legislation. They say physicians routinely inquire about pools, dangerous chemicals and other safety issues, particularly with children. They believe firearms should also fall in that category.
“Prevention is key to what pediatricians do, and firearm injury is a leading cause of death and disability among children, adolescents and young adults,” said Dr. Judy Schaechter, a pediatrician at the University of Miami and also Chair of Child Safety for the Florida Pediatric Society.
She thinks such a law interferes with the professional responsibility of doctors and their scope of practice, may be unconstitutional and is unnecessary, since patient privacy is already protected by state and federal laws.