AMA Resolution: Identifying Abusive, Hostile or Non-Compliant Patients

The text of the American Medical Association’s controversial “ungrateful patient” resolution followed by a press release from the International Cesarean Awareness Network.

AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION HOUSE OF DELEGATES

Resolution: 710

(A-09)

 

Introduced by:  Michigan Delegation

Subject:            Identifying Abusive, Hostile or Non-Compliant Patients

Referred to:      Reference Committee G

                         (J. Leonard Lichtenfeld, MD, Chair)

 

Whereas, Many patients are becoming more abusive and hostile toward physicians for many reasons not limited to the economy, increasing co-pays and deductibles, unreasonable expectations and demands, a lack of instantaneous cure, arrogance and/or the belief that they “own” their physicians; and

Whereas, There are decreasing numbers of physicians both in primary care and specialties especially in terms of access; and

Whereas, Increasing noncompliance with treatment can reflect negatively on physicians during black box audits by insurance companies and oversight governmental agencies; and

Whereas, Abusive, hostile, and noncompliant patients result in increasing office resources adding to office overhead and added stress on all of the office personnel, which can lead to potential ill health; and

Whereas, The stress of dealing with ungrateful patients is adding to the stress of physicians leading to decreased physician satisfaction; and

Whereas, Any complaint to any oversight investigative regulatory body leads to uncompensated expenditure of time, resources, and monies to defend physicians or the “guilty until proven innocent” principal; and

Whereas, Physicians need to own the data to simplify patient collection and identification to defend themselves as well as alert outside investigating agencies to the potential nature of the patient’s records; therefore be it

RESOLVED: That our American Medical Association ask its CPT Editorial Panel to investigate for data collection and report back at Annual 2010 meeting: 1) developing a modifier for the E&M codes to identify non-compliant patients and/or 2) develop an add-on code to E&M codes to identify non-compliant patients. (Directive to Take Action)

Fiscal Note: Staff cost estimated at less than $500 to implement.

Received: 05/06/09

 

 

 

International Cesarean Awareness Network issued a press release on June 11, 2009 in response to the AMA’s Resolution 710:

 

AMA Resolution Would Seek to Label “Ungrateful” Patients

Redondo Beach, CA, June 11, 2009 - At the American Medical Association’s (AMA) Annual Meeting next week, delegates will vote on a resolution which proposes to develop CPT (billing) codes to identify and label “non-compliant” patients

The resolution complains:

“The stress of dealing with ungrateful patients is adding to the stress of physicians leading to decreased physician satisfaction.”

“This resolution is alarming in its arrogance and its failure to recognize, or even pay lip service to, patient autonomy,” said Desirre Andrews, the newly elected president of the International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN).

If approved, the resolution could hold implications for women receiving maternity care. For pregnant women seeking quality care and good outcomes, “non-compliance” is often their only alternative to accepting sub-standard care. Physicians routinely order interventions like induction, episiotomy, or cesarean section unnecessarily.

Liz Dutzy, a mother from Olathe, Kansas, delivered her first two babies by cesarean and was told by her obstetrician that she needed another surgical delivery. “My doctor told me that I needed to have a cesarean delivery at 39 weeks, or my uterus would rupture and my baby would die.” She sought out another care provider and had a healthy and safe intervention-free {home} birth at 41 weeks and 3 days gestation.

A recent report by Childbirth Connection and The Milbank Memorial Fund, called “Evidence-Based Maternity Care: What It Is and What It Can Achieve ,” shows that the state of maternity care in the U.S. is worrisome, driven largely by a failure of care providers to heed evidence-based care practices. For most women in the U.S., care practices that have been proven to make childbirth easier and safer are underused, and interventions that may increase risks to mothers and babies are routinely overused. The authors of the report point to the “perinatal paradox” of doing more, but accomplishing less.

The resolution proposed by the Michigan delegation of the AMA could threaten patient care and patient autonomy for several reasons:

  • Billing codes that would categorize any disagreement and exercise of autonomy on the part of the patient as “non-compliance” “abuse” or “hostility” could create a pathway for insurance companies to deny coverage to patients
  • Use of these labels fails to recognize patients as competent partners with physicians in their own care
  • Tagging patients as “non-compliant” fails to recognize that there is not a “one size fits all” approach to care, that different opinions among physicians abound, and that patients are entitled to these very same differences of opinion
  • Labeling patients as “non-compliant” may, in fact, be punitive, jeopardizing a patient’s ability to seek out other care providers


The resolution also fails to address how it would implicate patients navigating controversial issues in medical care, like vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC). While a substantive body of medical research demonstrates that VBAC is reasonably safe, if not safer, than repeat cesareans, most physicians and hospitals refuse to support VBAC. The language in the resolution suggests that patients who assert their right to opt for VBAC could be tagged as non-compliant, even though their choice would be consistent with the medical research.

“The reality is that the balance of power in the physician-patient relationship is decidedly tipped towards physicians. The least patients should have is the right to disagree with their doctors and not be labeled a ‘naughty’ patient,” said Andrews.

 

 

 

AMA Resolution (PDF file- Page 102)

 

ICAN Press Releases

 

 

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