Doctors are overstepping their roles on guns

On Monday we took my six-year-old son to the hospital to have surgery on his heels. He was born with severe club feet. In addition he has autism and attention deficit disorder. We adopted him from China when we was about two years old. He has undergone medical treatments of his club feet that mostly repaired them but he needed this additional surgery to get the heels corrected.

While it was not a life or death situation, my wife and I were still nervous. Of course my son was somewhat scared, too. It was a stressful time. Although the surgery went well, he had a reaction to the pain medications and ended up throwing up for most of the night. That was finally cleared when they switched meds.

A strange thing happened though when they stopped by his recovery room and asked about his medical history. The nurse who was inputting the information asked whether there were any guns in our home. I wish I had told her to mind her own business, but with the stress of the situation and the question coming from out of the blue, I simply said, “no”.

I grew up on a farm with guns in the house. My parents were very clear to us as children that we should not be messing around with them. In junior high school I took a gun safety course that is pretty much a rite of passage in our town. I never got into hunting, but I am comfortable around guns. I don’t own one, myself, because I don’t have the time to keep up with training on them. I don’t belong to the NRA, but I support the right of any law abiding citizens to own them. The vast majority of gun owners are good, decent people. There is no reason to deny them their right, especially under the Second Amendment.

I could understand where doctors might ask a gun question in situations of actual gun shot wounds, suicide attempts, abuse, or similarly related circumstances. It simply did not make sense in our situation. It was inappropriately intrusive and smacks of a political agenda where doctors should not be involved. It is not just inappropriate. It undermines the doctor/patient trust. Because of what happened I will be a lot more leery of the supposed medical information they are obtaining from me.

I heard about the issue of doctors asking about guns in the news. Until now it has been an academic subject. Having this experience has really opened my eyes. I hope this diary helps others to be prepared in similar situations. We definitely need to push back against doctors and medical organizations that are misusing the trust of their patients to push a political agenda. At the very least, be prepared to answer, “None of your business”. Maybe they will get a clue.