by: ASRM Office of Public Affairs
Published in ASRM Bulletin Volume 15, Number 3
Last week, the Council of Medical Specialty Societies (CMSS), of which ASRM is a member, adopted a policy opposing legislative interference with the practice of medicine and the patient-physician relationship.
The position endorsed by the Council is expressed in the October 8, 2012 New England Journal of Medicine Sounding Board article titled, “Legislative Interference with the Patient-Physician Relationship." http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsb1209858
The article emphasizes the fundamental principles of respect for autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice that dictate physicians’ actions and behavior and shape the interactions between patients and their physicians. It continues to say that when physicians adhere to these principles, when patients are empowered to make informed decisions about their care, and when legislators avoid inappropriate interference with the patient-physician relationship, that physicians can best balance and serve the healthcare needs of individual patients and the broader society.
Four types of legislation of particular concern are described. The first prohibits physicians from discussing risk factors with their patients that may affect their health or the health of their families, as recommended by evidence-based guidelines of care. The second includes laws that require physicians to discuss specific practices that may not be necessary or appropriate at the time of a specific encounter with a patient, according to the physician’s best clinical judgment. The third type requires physicians to provide patients with diagnostic tests or medical interventions whose use is not supported by evidence, including tests or interventions that are invasive and required to be performed even without the patient’s consent. And lastly are laws limiting the information that physicians can disclose to patients, to consultants in patient care, or both.
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