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September 14, 2011

Censorship of the Patient-Physician Relationship: A New Florida Law

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts.

JAMA. 2011;306(10):1131-1132. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.1235

In June 2011, Florida House Bill 155 (HB155)1 became law, marking an unprecedented intrusion into the patient-physician relationship. The law states that licensed Florida health care practitioners and health care facilities “should refrain from making a written inquiry or asking questions concerning the ownership of a firearm or ammunition by the patient or by a family member of the patient, or the presence of a firearm in a private home or other domicile of the patient or a family member of the patient.” Additionally, practitioners and facilities are instructed against recording such information (if disclosed) in the medical record. Exceptions accompany both prohibitions. If a clinician “in good faith believes” that the information is “relevant to the patient's medical care or safety, or the safety of others” she or he may inquire; entry into the medical record is only prohibited if the clinician “knows” it is “not relevant.”