AMA condemns prisoner abuse

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted July 5, 2004

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A resolution endorsing President Bush's condemnation of the mistreatment of Iraqi detainees and calling for a formal review of U.S. interrogation practices was approved by the AMA House of Delegates at its Annual Meeting last month.

During reference committee discussion, delegates from Texas and Nebraska expressed concern that the resolution was more of a political statement than a medical one.

But others disagreed.

"Very clearly, it is not a political statement to have the AMA reaffirm long-established policies," said AMA Trustee and Wisconsin internist Cyril M. Hetsko, MD.

"We frequently reaffirm a number of policies as a way of reminding the group what is normal procedure," Dr. Hetsko added.

Director of the AMA Institute for Ethics, Matthew Wynia, MD, said the lack of debate on the House floor may indicate a consensus on the issue.

"The impetus behind this resolution was that physicians play a critical role in preventing the abuse of detainees," he added. "The AMA has strong policy on this already that we need to reiterate and disseminate."

For example, Dr. Wynia said AMA and international medical policies declare that physicians should not provide medical advice to help interrogators determine how long detainees can go without sleep or food.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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