Last time (Part
I) we discussed:
the Risk Management issues
involved in counseling patients about firearms home safety, and
the liability issues involved
with lack of certification and training of Physicians in Home Safety or
Now we'll discuss:
- the very serious issues involving the lawful possession and use of
firearms in the home, and
- the danger and liabilities associated with advising patients to severely
encumber the firearm(s) with locked storage, or advising the patient to
remove them entirely.
Patient X is told by Doctor Y to remove or lock up a firearm so it is not
accessible. Patient X, does as counseled and has no firearm available at
closehand. Subsequently, patient is then the victim of a home invasion and
calls 911, but the police are buried in calls and don't arrive for 20 minutes
during which time Patient X is raped, robbed and murdered. Anyone can see the
liability issue here, particularly Risk Management specialists and liability
It's just a matter of when and not if this will happen, God forbid, but it
will - if a home invasion takes place and Patient X takes Doctor Y's advice.
Now, imagine what follows this horrendous event. Who is to blame? The
perpetrator is long gone, and even so, the Plaintiff's litigator will state
that the perpetrator could have been neutralized by the appropriate defensive
use of a firearm, which was no longer available to the deceased/injured
because he/she followed a Physician's advice to render him/herself defenseless
against violent crime.
The Litigator will further argue that the Physician Knew, Could have known,
Should have known that removing a firearm from use for home defense would
result in harm to the patient if and when a crime was committed against the
patient in the home.
Physicians are already under incredible pressure from Liability and
Malpractice carriers to limit their exposure, and Malpractice rates are
staggeringly high. So, why borrow trouble?
If one acknowledges the already dangerous general liability of home safety
counseling and then adds the very risky practice of advising patients to
disarm themselves in the face of the reality of violent crime daily
perpetrated against home owners and apartment tenants, it is apparent that the
Physician is placing him/herself in a very risky position for suit.
It is my strong recommendation to Malpractice Carriers and those Physicians
they insure to strictly avoid this high risk practice and reserve counseling
for the area of expertise in which they are certified: Medicine. In my
professional opinion, this is an emotionally charged political issue that
Physicians and their Carriers should not be manipulated for whatever
well-intentioned reason into taking the risk, which is considerable......
Physicians in doubt of the veracity of what I've said are encouraged to
call their carriers and ask them what they currently cover, and to ask if this
new counseling policy is covered under the existing policy. We already know
what they will say: Don't borrow trouble.