I remember the first time I went to see my regular doctor at UVA for a general physical exam. The Bride had recommended him and it turns out he is a real life Dr McDreamy. Handsome and smart, plenty of time to answer my questions, not in any rush to shoo me out the door. Maybe this is what academic medicine is all about? I was surprised that he ordered tests for blood and bone density, mammography – and he didn’t actually touch me. I guess my Irish ancestors get the prize for giving me all the right numbers in blood pressure, and remember I didn’t come in with a problem. But my first surprise was the nursing assessment before Dr McDreamy walked in; she asked me if, “I feel safe at home?”
Bob tells me that this is a relatively new question in the battery of things we patients must divulge when we are putting our lives into the hands of someone. I understood, I suppose if I was a battered and abused woman maybe I’d feel safe enough here to break down and tell? It made me wonder what protocol they use if a woman or man answered that question in a different way. How much do we drink, do we smoke, and btw how do we feel in our home? I remember when Bob worked on a baby who had drowned in a hot tub. I’m pretty sure they weren’t asking questions back then about pools and hot tubs.
Last month I accompanied the Love Bug to her 4 month Peds check-up. How’s the nursing going, sleeping? And political junkie that I am, I thought about the small battle that was waged last year to gag doctors in FL. Legislators there were fighting to silence their pediatricians’ general wellness questions; in particular, one question, “Are there guns in the home?” Yes sir, politics has slipped inside that HIPPA protected wall of the doctor/patient relationship – one I liken to a priest/confessor – and is yet again telling our health care professionals what to do.
“The way some doctors see it, asking patients whether they own a gun is no more politically loaded than any other health-related question they ask. So when a Florida law that prohibited them from discussing gun ownership with patients passed last year, they moved to fight it. A federal judge issued a permanent injunction blocking enforcement of the law in July.” http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2012/11/27/165985266/taking-aim-at-restrictions-on-medical-questions-about-gun-ownership
I relaxed. I thought this will never do, it just can’t happen, if a federal judge in FL blocked this inane law, then it’s over. But no, it isn’t over.
A little known 5 sentence provision was slipped onto the end of the Affordable Care Act. Legislators agreed to slash the language of the bill until all health care professionals could do was ask about guns – there is to be
NO documenting of their conversation about guns,
NO collection of data on guns, and
NO research on gun ownership as it relates to injuries…
Legislators argued and preened around the policy, taking out the part about doctors being jailed if they so much as ask about guns, or even losing their license. As many as 8 states are still fighting to reinstate this criminal provision. Remember the good old days when all we worried about was a transvaginal ultrasound? http://edition.cnn.com/video/#/video/bestoftv/2013/01/09/ac-acosta-gupta-health-care-guns.cnn?iref=allsearch
Why should we care? 1 in 5 deaths of children in our country under age 20 is directly related to firearms – 1 in 5. In a 2 year study, for children ages 5 – 14, guns were shown to be the third leading cause of death. And now, the powerful NRA has basically stopped all research into this public health and safety problem. Let the newspapers print the names and addresses of gun owners. How many more rights are we willing to give up for the almighty money of the gun lobby?
Here is a picture of the graffiti that has appeared on our new bridge over the Rivanna River. “Love” on one side, and “Peace and Faith” on the other. I hope it stays there for awhile, that free speech travels upriver.