January 30, 2011

A Crime For Doctors to Ask About Guns?

When I saw this report on ABC about a Florida politician wanting to make it a crime if a physician asks about guns in the home or else face 5 years in jail and up to $5 million fine, I could not believe it.

Who cares that more children die of accidents than of diseases.

It is standard practice for pediatricians to provide guidance on a variety of unintentional injury-prevention counseling for infants, preschool-aged children, school-aged children, and adolescents as well as their parents. These include:
  • Traffic safety
  • Burn prevention
  • Fall prevention
  • Choking prevention
  • Drowning prevention/water safety
  • Safe sleep environment
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • Poison prevention
  • Firearm safety
  • Sports safety
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, gunshot wounds account for one in 25 admissions to pediatric trauma centers in the United States. Furthermore, a gun in the home is 43 times more likely to be used to kill a friend or family member than a burglar or other criminal.

As the trite but true saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

And in this day where healthcare costs are spiraling, how precious and common-sense it is to ask and provide guidance on firearm safety and security at a cost of one physician visit rather than a child accidentally getting shot and using up hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of surgeries, hospitalizations, studies, physician visits, etc.

Read the ABC report here.

Why as an ENT am I even bothered about this? It's because I often have to ask similar but what some people may consider very private questions akin to asking about guns (ie, oral sex).

Office-based counseling for unintentional injury prevention. Pediatrics 2007 Jan;119(1):202-6.
Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dr. Chang, you were an undergraduate when the American Academy of Pediatrics began its political campaign against gun owners, so I suspect you're not familiar with its extreme anti-gun rights bias. The AAP worked with Handgun Control, Inc. (now known as the Brady Campaign) to devise its firearm policy, which among other things advises pediatricians to urge parents to get rid of their guns. It is this ideological motivation that taints the very idea of pediatricians probing patients or parents about guns.

The medical literature is not a reliable source for learning about gun crime, any more than you would research treatments for laryngeal cancer in the sociology literature.

See my op-ed in today's South Florida Sun-Sentinel at www.sun-sentinel.com/news/opinion/fl-doctors-guns-forum-20110131,0,6682478.story

Timothy Wheeler, MD
Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery
Los Angeles area

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