Title

Informed Consent at Gunpoint: When Psychiatry Affects Gun Ownership.

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

6-1-2015

Journal

Behavioral Sciences & The Law

Volume

33

Issue

2-3

DOI

10.1002/bsl.2165

Keywords

Commitment of Mentally Ill; Confidentiality; Duty to Warn; Firearms; Humans; Informed Consent; Physician-Patient Relations; Psychiatry

Abstract

As states take more steps to connect patients' gun ownership to their mental health, psychiatrists are being asked to provide mental health information after clinical interviews as well as after confiscation. This move into the patient-physician relationship raises new questions about how psychiatrists should obtain informed consent when interviews may result in reports to legal authorities. Consent warnings are already practiced more in the breach than in the observance and informed consent is imperfect at its best. In communities torn by controversies surrounding gun control, vehement political views will further influence these established themes to result in unprecedented pressures on patient confidentiality. This analysis draws on new movements in ethical theory and behavioral medicine that go beyond balancing principles to question the use of psychiatry in firearm reporting, and support a vigorous practice of informed consent to protect both individuals and the communities they live in.

Peer Reviewed

1

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