As family physicians, part of our obligation to our patients is to help them identify and prevent health and safety risks. Yet a bill before the General Assembly (House Bill 562) would prevent us from using clinical screening tools because they may include a question about gun ownership.
We would never presume to tell our patients whether to own a gun. However, we do believe it is important to educate them about proper precautions to prevent illness and injury.
Family physicians regularly use evidence-based screening tools for adolescents and adults that help prevent unintentional injuries, diagnose depression and detect alcohol abuse and other mental health problems. This bill would prohibit us from using these clinical screening tools and hurt our ability to efficiently and effectively evaluate the health and safety risks of our patients.
We hope our legislators will remove this provision of the bill and continue to protect the sacred relationship between a patient and their physician.
William A. Dennis
Board chair, N.C. Academy of Family Physicians