The extent to which physicians' are obligated to promote quality of care, how to appropriately handle computer security breaches, and deciding what was ethically permissible or ethically preferable when it comes to industry financial support of medical education were among the issues debated by the American Medical Association at its annual House of Delegates meeting in Chicago Sunday.
Split into eight reference committees, delegates considered more than 200 reports and resolutions that covered topics such as whether federal incentives and subsidies to buy informational technology constituted a pay-for-performance program or if the right for physicians to privately contract with patients was a top priority or the top priority of the AMA.
The reference committees will draft reports on each item and include recommendations to either support, oppose, support or oppose with amendments, or refer them back to the Board of Trustees for further study. The recommendations will then be voted on by the 500-plus members of the entire House of Delegates over the next three days.
In addition to issues of healthcare reform or physician professionalism, the business of the AMA was also a topic of debate as delegates argued over whether membership dues should be waived for medical students, if the late fall interim meeting should be abolished, and if more than one of the House's 180 medical societies need to sponsor a resolution before it can be considered at the annual meeting.
There will also be a vote on dropping the number of societies in the House to 179. In addition to medical societies from the 50 states, District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, a myriad of medical societies are represented. To be included in the House of Delegates, a society needs to show that it has at least 1,000 members who also belong to the AMA or their percentage of members who belong to the AMA is at least 25%.
Delegates will be voting on whether to retain the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine in the House, because-even after a recruitment drive that brought in 118 new AMA members-still only 592 of the AAHPM's 2,657 members (22.2%) belong to the AMA.