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Physicians Asking Patients About Guns: Promoting Patient Safety, Respecting Patient Rights

Physicians Asking Patients About Guns: Promoting Patient Safety, Respecting Patient Rights

Journal of General Internal Medicine 31(10): 1242-1245

Recent debate on whether physicians should discuss gun ownership with their patients has centered on determining whether gun injuries are an issue of health or safety, and on protecting patient privacy. Yet, physicians' duties span personal health, public health, and safety spheres, and they often must address private patient matters. To prioritize gun safety and reduce gun injuries, the primary policy-driving question should be: will physician counseling on gun ownership effectively reduce gun-related injuries without interfering with the physician's other treatment obligations or compromising the physician-patient relationship? Existing data on physician-initiated conversations with patients about guns support a positive prevention effect. However, it is critical that physician-initiated discussions of safe gun practices are not motivated by, nor convey, disapproval of gun ownership. To be ethical, respectful, and efficient, the conversation should be standard between primary care providers and all of their patients (not limited to patient subsets); questions and education should be limited to topics of gun-ownership risks and storage practices; and the conversation must be framed without bias against gun ownership.

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Accession: 058554056

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 27206538

DOI: 10.1007/s11606-016-3694-2

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