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AMA Delegates Adopt Physician Employment Principles

Policy aims to ensure patient welfare outweighs employer imperatives

TUESDAY, Nov. 27 (HealthDay News) -- The number of employed physicians is rising, prompting adoption of physician employment principles by the American Medical Association, presented at the American Medical Association Interim Meeting, held from Nov. 8 to 10 in Honolulu.

The principles are presented in an AMA Board of Trustees report that the House of Delegates adopted, covering potential issues in physician-employer relationships such as conflicts of interest, contracting, payment agreements, peer reviews, performance evaluations, and medical staff-hospital relations.

The principles were initially proposed by the Organized Medical Staff Section and referred to the board for review at the Annual Meeting in June. The principles adopted and presented in the board report have set out general guidance on physician employment, including five principles addressing conflicts of interest.

"A doctor's paramount responsibility is to his or her patients. Additionally, given that an employed physician occupies a position of significant trust, he or she owes a duty of loyalty to his or her employer," the authors of the report write. "This divided loyalty can create conflicts of interest, such as financial incentives to over- or undertreat patients, which employed physicians should strive to recognize and address."

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