Tag Archives: gun safety

Survey: Doctors’ political views may affect patient care

Politics in the exam room? A new study suggests patient care may vary depending on whether the doctor is a Democrat or a Republican — at least when it comes to some hot-button health issues like firearm safety.

Health care has long drawn partisan political fights, like state laws surrounding abortion, or Florida’s law restricting doctors from discussing guns with patients. But there’s been little research on the doctor-patient side of those controversies. Can physicians leave their own political ideology at the door during something as simple as a checkup?

So Yale University researchers took an initial step, looking up voter registration records and linking more than 20,000 primary care physicians to their party affiliations. Then they surveyed more than 200 of those doctors about how they’d react to different scenarios — health issues that might come up when a new patient outlines his or her medical history during a routine physical.

Suffering depression? In denial about alcohol abuse? Ride a motorcycle without a helmet? Political affiliation didn’t matter; the survey found doctors of both political stripes would react about the same to patients with those and some similar health issues.

But Republican and Democratic doctors differed significantly when it came to some more politicized issues — abortion, marijuana and guns, the researchers reported.

Faced with a woman who wasn’t currently pregnant but had undergone two abortions earlier in life, Republican doctors were twice as likely as their Democratic counterparts to say they’d discourage any future abortions and 35 percent more likely to discuss so-called mental health aspects of abortion, said study co-author Eitan Hersh, a Yale political science professor.

Faced with a man who uses recreational marijuana three times a week, Republican doctors were 64 percent more likely to say they’d discuss marijuana’s legal risks and 47 percent more likely to urge them to cut back than Democratic doctors.

And Democratic doctors were 66 percent more likely to say they’d urge parents of small children not to store guns in the home — while Republican doctors instead preferred to ask about safe storage of the firearms, concluded the survey, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“This was really an eye-opener,” said bioethicist Nancy Berlinger of The Hastings Center, a nonpartisan research institute.

She wasn’t involved with the study but said it sheds light on the problem of “implicit bias” that affects people throughout society — the judgments we’re not consciously aware of making.

“We’re all biased in some way. We can be biased for something as well as against something,” Berlinger explained. When it comes to deeply partisan divides, doctors “can’t screen that out just like the rest of us can’t screen it out.”

Consider firearm safety, an important public health issue particularly for children, who too often are killed or injured when they find and play with a gun. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that doctors ask about the presence of guns and counsel parents who keep firearms to store them unloaded in a locked case, with the ammunition locked up separately.

Berlinger said doctors could examine if public health successes — such as how, over decades, child car seats became mandatory and embraced — bring lessons in communicating the need to also keep children safe from accidental shootings without the parent tuning out.

When patients choose a doctor, “they don’t necessarily know what they’re getting ahead of time,” Hersh said, noting that many other issues, from transgender health to end-of-life care, may be affected by the physician’s political views.

He called the survey a first step to studying the actual impact on patients. (The survey couldn’t reflect whether doctors had recently changed their party affiliation, and didn’t include those who live in states that don’t have registration by party.)

“We don’t leave things at the door,” said Dr. Matthew Goldenberg, a Yale psychiatrist who co-authored the research. “Both patients and practitioners should be aware that there are these biases.”

By Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical writer

2-year-olds involved in fatal shootings twice in one week

A Milwaukee mother of three was shot and killed by her 2-year-old son yesterday morning while driving on U.S. 41/Highway 175 near Miller Park.

Antonio Price said investigators told him that his sister Patrice Price was driving with her two sons, ages 1 and 2, in the backseat when she was shot. Price said investigators told him the older boy fired the gun.

According to the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s office, the child shot his mother in the back with a 40-caliber firearm that slid out from under the driver’s seat.

Price said his sister was a great mother and always gave him good advice.

The woman’s father, Andre Price, said his daughter was driving her boyfriend’s car when she was shot. He said his daughter was a hardworking mother of three.

Price says he has not been allowed to see his daughter and that he wants to hold her one last time.

Twice in one week

The shooting occurred just a week after a 2-year-old Indianapolis boy took a gun from his mother’s purse on the kitchen counter when she wasn’t watching, then shot and killed himself with it.

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department said officers found the child with a single gunshot wound when they arrived at the home around 9 p.m. on April 21. The child died at a children’s hospital.

Police said the mother and child were the only people at home when the shooting happened.

Accidental gun deaths involving children have become a major problem in the U.S.

Last year, about 265 children under 18 shot someone by accident, and 83 of those shootings were fatal, according to research compiled by the gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety. Forty-one of those deaths involved the shooters themselves, and most of the shootings involved toddlers or teens playing with the weapons.

Nearly 1.7 million children live in households where guns are stored either loaded or not locked away, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. The center  publishes a 0-100 score rating each state’s strictness of firearm laws, with 100 being the strictest. Wisconsin’s score is 25, compared with a score of 2 for Kansas and 93.5 for California.

Wisconsin gun safety

Wisconsin state Rep. Lisa Subeck, D-Madison, introduced four bills early this year related to firearm safety, including a bill that would have required a gun owner to store firearms in a locked container or have a locking device engaged if there is a child living in the residence or if a child is present in the home.

All four bills were sent to the Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety, where Republican leaders, who are heavily subsidized by the National Rifle Association, refused to allow a hearing on them.

Gun safety legislation introduced in Madison

State Rep. Lisa Subeck this week introduced four bills intended to keep guns out of the hands of children and those who intend to use them for harm.

“As gun violence presents a significant public health and safety crisis, it is imperative that take action to keep our communities safe,” Subeck, a Democrat from Madison, said in a news release. “The Safe Storage for Gun Safety package of legislation offers common sense measures to keep guns out of the hands of our children and out of the hands of dangerous individuals.”

LRB-4399 would require reporting of lost or stolen firearms within 24 hours of discovering the loss or theft. The legislation would enable law enforcement to trace guns more effective, according to the legislator’s office.

LRB-4400 would require that at the time of sale or transfer of a firearm, the seller provide the individual receiving the gun with a secure lockable container or trigger lock for the firearm.

LRB-4412 would require a gun owner to store firearms in a locked container or have a locking device engaged if a person who cannot legally possess a firearm lives in the residence.

LRB-4423 would require a gun owner to store firearms in a locked container or have a locking device engaged if there is a child living in the residence or if a child is present in the home.