Gun control actions clarify laws for physicians

7:31 PM, Jan 21, 2013   |    comments
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BRUNSWICK, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- One of the corner stones of President Obama's recent push for gun control is addressing the issue of mental illness.

Two of the executive actions the president signed, last week, don't create new laws, but instead clarify existing ones.

There are no federal laws that prevent doctors from notifying police if a patient suggests that they might hurt someone. Doctors are also allowed to question whether patients have guns in their homes. In the wake of the shootings in Newtown, President Obama wants to make sure every physician in the country knows that.

Doctor Kathleen Schwarz says physicians have to strike a balance between patient confidentiality and public safety.

"No one wants to betray patient confidentiality but at the same time, if you know of a situation and somebody gets killed then I think you are morally and legally responsible for that if you could have prevented it" Schwarz said.

In his plan to reduce gun violence, President Obama also addressed the need for greater access to mental health services. He is proposing a plan that includes early diagnosis in children and teens, and requires that mental health services are covered by private insurance and Medicaid.
















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