By Phyllis Klosinski
Do you have the obligation to disclose to your physician your ownership or access to a firearm?
Should your medical records be available upon request to any government entity?
Who has the ability to disclose your medical records to government entities?
Under what circumstances can your medical records be disclosed?
What information does your physician have the authority to require from you in the patient-physician relationship?
Should a physician or medical records custodian have authority to require a patient disclose gun ownership information?
What right does a political subdivision or any government entity have to require that a physician inquire and record whether a patient owns a firearm?
What right does any government entity have to obtain absent due process any private confidential doctor-patient records?
What do any of these questions have to do with a simple visit to the Doctor? Plenty!
HB 1446 is a repeat proposal from a prior session which would secure individual privacy and your ability to own a handgun for self-protection without government interference through access of private medical information. The bill is simple and direct. The first prohibition is that “a practitioner or medical records custodian may not do the following: Disclose information gathered in the course of a practitioner-patient relationship that relates to a patient’s ownership of or access to a firearm.” There are medical exception provisions for requesting such information which include: “ To comply with a court order. In response to a threat to the health and safety of the patient or another person. In connection with a referral to a mental health professional.” Or with the express written consent of the patient given in a separate document only if the practitioner believes the information is medically indicated. Nor can either just routinely request consent to disclosure of ownership or firearm access and any such documentation must not violate any other state or federal law.
HB 1446 also prohibits the use of “an electronic medical record program that requires, in order to complete and save a medical record, entry of data regarding whether a patient: owns a firearm; has access to a firearm; or lives in a home containing a firearm.” Why would a medical records program even require such information?
The next section of this proposed bill protects both the practitioner and the patient by providing that the board which regulates the profession may not require the practitioner to inquire whether a patient owns or has access to a firearm or document the ownership in a patient’s records. Nor can the board require the practitioner to notify “any governmental entity of the identity of a patient based solely on the patient’s status as an owner of a firearm or the patient’s access to a firearm.”
Finally, HB 1446 addresses political subdivisions prohibiting the adoption and enforcement of any ordinance, resolution, policy, or rule that requires a practitioner or medical records custodian to inquire, document or maintain any patient record as described in this bill. And the subdivision is prohibited from notifying any governmental entity of the identity of a patient based solely on the patient’s status as an owner of a firearm or the patient’s access to a firearm. Further HB 1446 concludes with “ Sec. 3. An ordinance, a resolution, a policy, or a rule that violates section 2 of this chapter is void.”
Medical Boards and Political Subdivisions are agents of the state and as such are held to the same obligations as Indiana in that they cannot violate the terms of the Indiana Constitution.
The U..S. Constitution Amendment 4 and the Indiana Constitution Article 1 Section 11 both protect the individual from unwarranted seizure of private documents. There can be no exception to the government recognition that medical records are right to life determinations private to the sole ownership of the individual. Any interference through legislation demanding certain information be disclosed, recorded and available to any government entity without due process cannot be tolerated. The ability to adopt any law, ordinance, rule, regulation or any other act by any level of Indiana government is quantified under the Indiana Constitution Section 25. “No law shall be passed, the taking effect of which shall be made to depend upon any authority, except as provided in this Constitution.”
We are all created with the individual right to Life and privacy. Each individual not the government or any government agent has the right to determine what information we must supply to our physician nor determine that the physician has an obligation to the government entity to question us about matters which have no bearing on the concerns we discuss with our physician. HB 1446 appears to place protections between the relationship of patient and physician and government.