When a new administration takes office all departments under federal control start reflecting the political and ideological agenda of the party in power, that is to be expected, but one shouldn't expect, nor tolerate, that agenda being pushed in a relation between a doctor and their patients, a relationship that should be sacred and protected by ethics and patient confidentiality.
This article is in response to concerns expressed in our comment section about readers that are disturbed about their doctors and/or clinics asking them and their children if their household has firearms.
CWSK commented "Yesterday my wife took our oldest daughter to the doctor. The doctor ask her all kinds of questions and this is one of them. "Is there any firearms in your house?" Our daughter didn't know how to answer that question so she just shrugged her shoulders. Then he asked my wife the same question and she said "yes". I don't know what color list that put us on but I'm sure we are on one of them now.Wake up folks it is coming soon."
Definily the "red list" along with others the Obama administration and their merry band of liberals have labeled "dangerous," and "extremists," such as constitutionalists, Veterans, Christians, preppers, patriot groups and the alternative right.
PG responded "Yes, CWSK, the last time I went to our local health clinic I was handed a form to fill out & noticed that up in the left hand corner was the words "Dept.of Health And Human Services" I knew right away it wasn't info that my MD was requesting. The first page was info that was already on my medical records but when I got to the second page it asked " do you ever feel depressed? Do you feel safe" is anyone threatening you? Do you own a gun?--- that's when I folded up the paper and put it in my purse. I noticed that there was an "opt out " section at the end where you could sign that you refused to answer the questions! That in itself was a red flag. Yep, if they want to know that info, let them go digging, in state gun registries, because I'm not willingly supplying it."
Pursuant to the 2009 Obama "stimulus," patient records are now being digitized. Physicians are rewarded with up to $44,000 for adopting Electronic Medical Records (EMRS). If they do not adopt, they are penalized by reduced Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements. (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Pub. L. No. 111-5, § 4101, 123 Stat. 115; 42 U.S. Code § 300jj-11(c)(3)(A)(ii).)
That is a critical point because during the obamacare debate, the NRA pushed a clause that while not banning doctors from asking about firearm ownership, did forbid them from "documenting the information and using it for research purposes," also stating that the information "cannot be used to keep and maintain records of individuals’ firearm possession, nor can it be used to track ammunition."
Furthermore, the NRA reports "On Jan. 16, 2013, President Barack Obama issued a host of executive actions about gun control. Eight days later, the U.S. Department of Labor issued an FAQ about Obamacare implementation (dol.gov/ebsa/faqs/faq-aca11.html). Question five was, "Does PHS Act section 2717(c) restrict communications between health care professionals and their patients concerning firearms or ammunition?"
The Obama administration’s answer: "No. … The statute prohibits an organization operating a wellness or health promotion program from requiring the disclosure of information relating to certain information concerning firearms. However, nothing in this section prohibits or otherwise limits communication between health care professionals and their patients, including communications about firearms. Health care providers can play an important role in promoting gun safety."
In order to bypass that Obamacare clause the NRA made sure was inserted, the federal goverment pushed for the Electronic Medical Records, rewarding doctors for adopting it and punishing those that would not use them.
But that’s not what should give gun owners pause. It’s this: we have little idea what’s in those electronic records, who sees the data, where it goes, and what they do with it. While the debate over whether physicians should routinely question patients about firearm ownership is quiet for now, that does not mean that healthcare professionals cannot or would not be encouraged, with a wink and a nod, to record gun ownership information in an electronic health record as it emerges in the course of routine conversation with a patient.
The lack of transparency about the evolution of EMRs and EHRs has been appalling. Why is that patients are encouraged to access primarily their PHR? Why can’t they easily see their EMR and EHR, despite the government’s chest thumping over their Blue Button initiative? Even more to the point, why don’t I, as a citizen, have the right to see who has looked at my EHR data or the entities to which it has been sold or transmitted (in a de-identified manner, we are assured)? I can log on to my credit report any time and see who has requested it. Why can’t I do the same for my EHR and EMR? Why don’t I have the right to correct the records by removing information that is not medically relevant or opt-out of having my data shipped to federal agencies or academic institutions?
In other words while Federal law prohibits the doctors from compiling information that has nothing to do with your medical health, such as gun ownership, in the Personal Health Records, nothing stops them from using the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) or the Electronic Health Records (EHRs), which can be shared (just not with you, the patient!)........ we just don't know with who or what government agencies.
What is extremely concerning is that many adults, especially Second Amendment supporters, might very well tell a nurse, or a doctor it is none of their business and a question about firearms in their own homes has no place in a conversation between a doctor and a patient, but examples found across the web indicate they are abusing the fact that they are authorative figures by asking children thses questions.
For example on January 29, 2014, on Ol' Buffalo Blog, an image was shown with a note that stated "Read questions 11 and 12. This was a questionnaire at my daughters cardiology appt!!"
Guns Save Lives also published a photo of part of a form that was associated with a physical to play sports given to their child in California.
One of the first things to do is make sure your child, if under 15, is not left alone with the doctor unless you know that particular medical professional does not unethically commit "boundary violations." If your child is older, have a discussion with him/her on what is and what is not appropriate for the doctor to be asking and what your child should or should not be answering.
If your doctor does violate those boundaries, find another doctor if at all possible... if not then the following steps are provided by Ammoland, steps to take after you politely, or not so politely, tell your doctor what he can do with his inappropriate questions and they incude the following:
2) If the gun question(s) appears on your health plan’s routine health assessment questionnaire, file a formal written complaint with the health plan. Every health plan has a member complaint process, often prescribed by law. Your complaint will be registered and the health plan will respond.
3) If the health plan responds with the excuse that their questions about your guns are standard medical practice that they must follow, you can take the complaint to the next step—file a written complaint with your state agency that regulates health plans. For example, in California you would follow the complaint procedure on the Department of Managed Health Care web site. It’s your right as a patient under California law.
4) If your doctor persists in asking intrusive questions about guns in your home, you can also file a complaint specifically against him or her with your health plan. Such complaints are taken seriously, and the doctor will be called to account for it. Having one or more complaints about ethical boundary violations on her record will make her think twice about doing it again.
5) Internet consumer rating sites have created another way doctors can be publicly rated on the basis of service, attitude, and behavior. Some commonly used rating sites are Yelp.com, Healthgrades.com, Vitals.com, and RateMDs.
6)Increasingly, doctors’ pay from Medicare and insurance companies is tied to how they score on patient satisfaction surveys. These are often sent randomly to patients, but you can request one to fill out. You can have a powerful impact on a doctor’s conduct by reporting the doctor’s unethical questioning about your guns.
7) If the doctor’s conduct is especially offensive, as was the case with this Florida pediatrician, you have the right to submit a complaint to the doctor’s licensing board. This is an agency in your state government that holds the ultimate power of licensure over your doctor. A quick internet search for “medical board” in your state should take you to the official form for filing a complaint. This is a step that should not be taken lightly.
Emphasis on number 6 is mine, because if doctors are going to sell out their patients by basically working as a government mole, for monetary rewards or simply to push their own political agenda, then it seems a type of ironic justice to hit them where it hurts, their wallets.
Below is a commentary on this issue from a former cop and firearm instructor, including and example of when his doctor asked him about whether their were guns in the home.