Florida Court Upholds State Statute Barring Physicians from Asking Patients about Gun Ownership
September 19, 2014 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care
In a 2-to-1 split decision, a Florida federal appeals court said that physicians in the state may not ask patients whether they own firearms, may not document information about gun ownership in medical records (unless it is relevant to the patient's care or safety), and may not harass or otherwise discriminate against patients based on whether they own firearms. Many physicians and medical associations have been closely watching challenges to Florida's statute, which prevents physicians in the state from asking patients about gun ownership and recording information about it in the medical record. The state's ultimate decision in this case may have far-reaching consequences on laws in other states about privacy and gun ownership. Physicians who do not follow the Florida rule would be subject to sanctions, including fines, practice restrictions, probation, and suspension or revocation of their medical license. The court also said that the provisions do not forbid physicians from discussing firearms safety, provided that they do not ask patients whether they have firearms in their homes.