Florida House Bill 155

Thu, Aug 18, 2011

General Legal Issues

Florida has a new law that regulates some of the questions that doctors can ask their patients. Passed in June 2011, House Bill 155 (similar to Senate Bill 432) makes it illegal for doctors to ask about the presence of guns or ammunition in a patient’s home. This new law was inspired by the continuing prevalence of pediatricians and other healthcare workers asking these types of invasive questions of their patients. Many patients were increasingly concerned their answers were a judgment of them or their home. Patients were also unsure if they were required to answer these types of questions at all.

Under the new law, questioning of a patient about the presence of firearms is only allowed if the healthcare worker truly believes it is relevant to the patient’s medical care or the safety of the patient and others. Paramedics and EMTs are specifically given the right to ask questions about guns if they feel it is truly necessary to know for the care they are giving their patients. At no time is a physician able to make note of the answer in the patient’s records.

A patient is clearly no longer required to answer any questions by a medical professional about the presence of firearms in their home. They are also assured that gun ownership should not legally prohibit them from being a patient of any health care professional or facility. Another interesting aspect of the law is that insurance providers are now specifically excluded from making decisions about coverage based on gun ownership or gun access by an insured.

Discrimination by a healthcare worker for any reason is inexcusable. SmithLaw wants to know if you feel you have been a victim of discrimination by a doctor based on gun ownership or gun presence in your home.

**This law may not be in effect at this time. The courts have ruled that it violates free speech, but Governor Rick Scott is currently appealing this decision.


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