Frederick Adolf Paola, MD, JD
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Paola F.; Firearm Injury Prevention. Ann Intern Med. 1998;129:336. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-129-4-199808150-00020
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 1998;129(4):336.
TO THE EDITOR:
Cassel and colleagues' article  left me wondering about the importance of some physicians saying that physicians should talk to patients about guns.
Did the respondents who said that physicians should talk to patients about guns truly believe this? If they did, why did so few actually do so? Were they asked about this discrepancy? Although one could hypothesize explanations that would not invalidate the authors' conclusion, one could also imagine respondents simply giving the answer they thought the authors wanted.
Even if it were established that the respondents believed what they reported, what will have been shown? Only that some physicians believe that they should talk to patients about guns. Why does this matter? Nowhere in the article or in the accompanying editorial  were the more fundamental questions addressed: whether physicians, in their role as physicians, should talk to patients about guns, and why. Do the authors believe that this type of question can be resolved by a vote and that their study did so? This is not that type of question. Professional attitudes and behavior can set the standard of care but cannot determine whether a particular duty exists. The existence of a moral duty cannot be established or abrogated by referendum.
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Print ISSN: 0003-4819 | Online ISSN: 1539-3704
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