Group accuses AMA of restricting patient access

The American Medical Association says health professionals must have proper training.

By Myrle Croasdale — Posted July 10, 2006

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The Coalition for Patients' Rights, an organization representing nonphysician health professionals, is critical of the American Medical Association's latest effort to combat scope-of-practice legislation. The new group says organized medicine's actions will limit patent access to nonphysician health care professionals.

Nursing associations primarily comprise the 25-group coalition, but it also includes the American Psychological Assn., the American Physical Therapy Assn. and the American Speech-Language Hearing Assn.

"We're concerned about patients' options, so we've joined together to oppose these efforts and to say that we'd like to partner with the AMA to provide broader care to patients," said Rose Gonzalez, RN, director of government affairs for the American Nurses Assn., which is a member of the Coalition for Patients' Rights.

The coalition was formed in response to the AMA-sponsored Scope of Practice Partnership, which now includes eight national physician specialty societies and 26 state medical associations. The partnership is intended to be a forum where physician organizations can share their experiences and resources to respond to scope-of-practice legislation that jeopardizes public health and safety, according to the AMA. It began after physician organizations noted a steadily increasing number of scope-of-practice efforts in state legislatures.

Officials at the AMA said coalition members had not contacted the Association and said they could not speculate on the feasibility of a meeting.

In response to the coalition, AMA Trustee Rebecca J. Patchin, MD, reaffirmed the Association's commitment to patient care. "We have great respect for all members of the health care team and believe that each health care professional has a unique role in caring for patients," Dr. Patchin said. "However, in order for patients to receive optimal quality care, their health care professionals must have the clinical education and training to provide the service they perform."

Among other things, the Coalition for Patients' Rights said it wants to end the "divisive efforts to oppose the established practice rights of CPR members" by the AMA and allied physician groups and stop "legislation at the state level that would reduce provider options for patients."

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