Practice Economics

Coalition decries legislative interference in medicine



A coalition of physician, consumer, and other advocacy groups is asking politicians to stop trying to regulate the physician-patient relationship.

The Coalition to Protect the Patient-Provider Relationship – which includes the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Physicians, and 13 other organizations – issued a statement expressing “serious concern” about the increasing number of government actions that “inappropriately interfere” in the relationship between patients and their health care providers by asking providers to violate their medical training and their ethical obligations to patients.

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The statement points to laws recently enacted in Arizona and Arkansas that require abortion providers to inform patients that medication abortion may be reversible, a claim that is not supported by science, the coalition wrote.

“The mandate is emblematic of a larger trend of lawmakers abusing their responsibilities by imposing ideological views on licensed and highly trained health care professionals,” the coalition said in its statement.

The coalition urged lawmakers to follow four principles to protect the patient-provider relationship:

The coalition’s statement comes as physician organizations are increasingly pushing back against lawmakers for attempts to legislate their interactions with patients, including a Florida law that bars physicians from asking families about the presence of guns in the home and requirements in other states that women have ultrasonography before an abortion.

In 2012, the ACP, AAFP, ACOG, American Academy of Pediatrics, and American College of Surgeons wrote a joint editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine condemning these laws (2012;367:1557-9).

“Physicians must have the ability and freedom to speak to their patients freely and confidentially, to provide patients with factual information relevant to their health, to fully answer their patients’ questions, and to advise them on the course of best care without the fear of penalty,” the groups wrote in the editorial.

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