11th Circuit Court Ruling Threatens Patient-Provider Relationship

August 13, 2017


For more information on the 11th Circuit decision, contact:
Susan Stevens Martin, American Academy of Pediatricians
at ssmartin@aap.org or 847-434-7131

For more information on the Coalition to Protect the
Patient-Provider Relationship, contact:
Cindy Romero, National Partnership for Women & Families
at cromero@nationalparnership.org or 202-238-2600
Becky Martin, National Physicians Alliance
at becky.martin@npalliance.net or 941-518-7051

11th Circuit Court of Appeals Ruling Threatens Patient-Provider Relationship

Washington, DC —The undersigned members of the Coalition to Protect the Patient-Provider Relationship, a broad-based national coalition of nonprofit, nonpartisan organizations, united in our opposition to inappropriate interference in the relationship between a patient and health care provider, are deeply disappointed by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals’ recent ruling on a Florida gun safety counseling law.

In upholding the Florida law restricting licensed health care practitioner counseling on firearms safety, the 11th Circuit ruled that there is no First Amendment protection for physicians (or other health care practitioners) who routinely ask about the presence of a gun in the home in order to offer appropriate safety counseling to patients and families. Firearms safety education of both children and adults has been shown to decrease the likelihood of unintentional injury and death and is recommended by major medical associations.

This issue is much bigger than gun safety – it is about governmental intrusion on patients’ relationships with their medical professionals. These relationships are built on trust and respect. Laws that infringe on these relationships put patients and their family’s health at risk. Physicians and other medical professionals should not be prohibited by law or regulation from discussing with or asking their patients about risk factors that may negatively impact their health. The information and care provided should be consistent with the best available medical evidence on clinical effectiveness.

Plaintiffs in the case are petitioning the court for a rehearing. The coalition supports efforts to pursue additional legal remedies in this case to ensure patients’ relationships with their medical providers are protected.

American Academy of Family Physicians
American Academy of Pediatrics
American College of Physicians
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
American Medical Association
American Medical Student Association
American Medical Women’s Association
American Nurses Association
American Osteopathic Association
Center for Reproductive Rights
Council of Medical Specialty Societies
Jacobs Institute of Women’s Health
Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence
National Partnership for Women & Families
National Physicians Alliance
National Women’s Health Network
National Women’s Law Center
Physicians for Reproductive Health
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Planned Parenthood Federation of America

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*The Coalition to Protect the Patient-Provider relationship is comprised of nonpartisan, nonprofit organizations united in our opposition to inappropriate interference in the relationship between a patient and health care provider. This relationship is one in which sensitive and confidential information is privately exchanged in trusted, open, and honest discussion. The Coalition believes that all parties speaking to the provision of health care should respect the unique nature of the patient-provider relationship and support the ethical obligation of the health care provider to deliver individualized, evidence-based care and put the patient first. Any views expressed by the Coalition to Protect the Patient-Provider Relationship do not represent the endorsement of member organizations unless expressly stated.

About the American Medical Student Association

AMSA is the oldest and largest independent association of physicians-in-training in the United States. Founded in 1950, AMSA is a student-governed, non-profit organization committed to representing the concerns of physicians-in-training. To learn more about AMSA, our strategic priorities, or joining the organization, please visit us online at www.amsa.org.