AMA monitors evolving physician disaster-response systems

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Dec. 4, 2006

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The AMA is involved -- and will continue to be involved -- in monitoring programs that will make it easier for physicians to cross state lines and help out after disasters, says a Board of Trustees report presented and adopted at the Association's Interim Meeting in Las Vegas in November.

The AMA also will continue to support laws and policies such as license reciprocity and civil liability protections that encourage physicians to volunteer during disasters.

For example, the Association, through the Center on Public Health Preparedness and Disaster Response, is watching how programs such as the Emergency System for Advance Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals evolve.

This is a system the Dept. of Health and Human Services Secretary is creating to register doctors who want to volunteer during a public health emergency and verify their credentials, licenses and other information before disasters strike. The AMA also is monitoring volunteer organizations such as the Medical Reserve Corps, a national network of community-based citizen volunteer units.

The awareness and need for these systems comes after volunteer physicians ran into barriers in providing care after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. New York City hospital administrators said they couldn't use volunteer physicians because they could not confirm or verify basic licensing or credentialing information, including training, skills, competencies and employment. Similar problems arose after Hurricane Katrina.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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