LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Texas lawmakers are considering a bill that would forbid doctors from listing patients' gun ownership status in medical records.
It's a move health providers worry would be an unnecessary government intrusion that harms their consultations with patients.
When you visit your local doctor, you might expect a few questions before your check-up.
"Whether they have diabetes, blood pressure, heart problems, lung problems, also what surgeries they've had," said Prasad Peddu, a Lufkin doctor.
Some questions like those concerning sexual activity or drug use might be embarrassing for some patients.
"I might ask their social behavior like if they smoke drink alcohol. These are the things that affect their health," Peddu said.
One question has Texans feeling an invasion of privacy. Do you own a gun?
"So far I haven't asked any patient if they are a gun owner," Peddu said.
The bill proposed by State Rep. Stuart Spitzer, R-Kaufman, would prohibit the question from consultations and even set up consequences for those doctors who do ask. He said the bill would protect a patient's privacy and prevent government entities from using information on medical records for non-medical purposes.
A CHI St.Luke's Memorial representative said they don't ask patients if they own firearms, but Peddu says there are certain instances that make the question necessary.
"If they have certain emotional problems, for instance, or if someone has anger or depression,"Peddu said.
Many East Texans say ownership of firearms is personal information, while doctors say it could get in the way of the openness needed in the doctor's office.
"It is only for medical purposes and for the health care purpose of that patient,"Peddu said.
The bill is now awaiting a hearing before the House Public Health Committee, but until then, your doctor can "check-up" on your gun ownership status, too.