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11th Circuit Court of Appeals Ruling Threatens Patient-Provider Relationship

For Release:  August 1, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The undersigned members of the Coalition to Protect the Patient-Provider Relationship, a broad-based national coalition of nonprofit, nonpartisan organizations, united in our opposition to inappropriate interference in the relationship between a patient and health care provider, are deeply disappointed by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals' recent ruling on a Florida gun safety counseling law.
In upholding the Florida law restricting licensed health care practitioner counseling on firearms safety, the 11th Circuit ruled that there is no First Amendment protection for physicians (or other health care practitioners) who routinely ask about the presence of a gun in the home in order to offer appropriate safety counseling to patients and families. Firearms safety education of both children and adults has been shown to decrease the likelihood of unintentional injury and death and is recommended by major medical associations.

This issue is much bigger than gun safety - it is about governmental intrusion on patients' relationships with their medical professionals. These relationships are built on trust and respect. Laws that infringe on these relationships put patients and their family's health at risk. Physicians and other medical professionals should not be prohibited by law or regulation from discussing with or asking their patients about risk factors that may negatively impact their health. The information and care provided should be consistent with the best available medical evidence on clinical effectiveness.

Plaintiffs in the case are petitioning the court for a rehearing. The coalition supports efforts to pursue additional legal remedies in this case to ensure patients' relationships with their medical providers are protected.

American Academy of Family Physicians

American Academy of Pediatrics 

American College of Physicians

American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

American Medical Association

American Medical Student Association

American Medical Women's Association

American Nurses Association 

American Osteopathic Association

Center for Reproductive Rights

Council of Medical Specialty Societies 

Jacobs Institute of Women's Health

Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence

National Partnership for Women & Families

National Physicians Alliance

National Women's Health Network

National Women's Law Center

Physicians for Reproductive Health

Physicians for Social Responsibility

Planned Parenthood Federation of America

*The Coalition to Protect the Patient-Provider relationship is comprised of nonpartisan, nonprofit organizations united in our opposition to inappropriate interference in the relationship between a patient and health care provider. This relationship is one in which sensitive and confidential information is privately exchanged in trusted, open, and honest discussion.  The Coalition believes that all parties speaking to the provision of health care should respect the unique nature of the patient-provider relationship and support the ethical obligation of the health care provider to deliver individualized, evidence-based care and put the patient first. Any views expressed by the Coalition to Protect the Patient-Provider Relationship do not represent the endorsement of member organizations unless expressly stated.


The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 62,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit


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