[Ed: We thought we’d share an example of letters we often receive about inappropriate physician queries with unsolicited advice about guns in patient care settings. We hear about these incidents all too often, but want to so that we can offer what help we can. Thank you to the writer for allowing us to share this.]
I wanted to inform you that doctors are asking intrusive questions regarding gun ownership in Washington state.
Recently I had a routine annual physical exam and the doctor started to ask more about guns.
The first time this happened was on my June 2015 exam.
What was admitted as a note: “Has guns, doesn’t keep them loaded, keeps them in a safe.”
But, questions became more extensive this September 2018 when Dr. S. asked (in his third question)
“May I ask what kind of guns you have?” I stated NO you can’t. I then went on to explain the difficulty loading (i.e., inserting magazine, cocking, removing safety) and that I am proactive in protecting my wife and I by keeping doors & windows locked.
This was admitted, in September as a medical record note:
“Guns in home, keeps unloaded. Has ability to keep in locked container.’
Currently retired. . . . Guns in the home, keeps unloaded. Has ability to keep in locked container.
ASSESSMENT: [Patient] was seen for his Welcome to Medicare Visit (IPPE).
Based on the information above, I identified the following risk factors & conditions that may affect his health and function in the future:
. . . 3. Guns in the home
— Medical Student ‐ 09/13/2018 8:30 AM PDT
I was present with the medical student. I personally performed the physical examination and medical decision making. I have verified all of the medical student’s documentation for this encounter.
Note: they made an assumption that I wasn’t keeping guns in my safe, because that wasn’t specifically addressed this time(but prior in 2015 the safe was mentioned, but stated anyway, in my record that gun was not in safe).
I found the gun question intrusive when it was brought up in 2015 and now they are making my annual physical exam some kind inquisition.
I thought this might be of interest and perhaps an article mentioning in the Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership would get the word out that you can no longer trust your doctor (at least those at the University of Washington).
Can you point me to resources that I can get that would legally challenge these types of questions? I think the doctor broached a boundary that violates his professions rules.
Hello Mr. . . . ,
— DRGO Editor Robert B. Young, MD is a psychiatrist practicing in Pittsford, NY, an associate clinical professor at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, and a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.