ACP: Health care laws should not interfere with medical care

Paper offers guidelines to help lawmakers establish fair legislation

The American College of Physicians (ACP) released a paper this week expressing concern about legislation that interferes with physicians delivering medical care and patient-physician communication.

According to ACP, legislation intended to regulate the doctor-patient relationship can create unintended frustration for physicians. In particular, the authors cite laws that currently prevent doctors from educating their patients about risk factors that could affect them and their families, as well as requirements that force physicians to discuss specific practices that physicians may not endorse for a certain patient's care.

For example, one law in Florida prevents physicians from asking patients questions related to gun safety and including such information in the patient's health record; and another law in Alaska that allows a patient or their family to override a physician's do-not-resuscitate order.

The paper further offers lawmakers seven questions they should ask themselves before considering a rule that affects patient care, and determine if there are other reasonable means to achieving the same end. The questions are meant to serve as a guideline for establishing fair legislation.

According to the release, these parameters will help prevent lawmakers from enacting "ill-considered" legislation that "can cause grave damage to the patient-physician relationship and medical professionalism and undermine the quality of care,” says David Bronson, president of the ACP (Selvam, Modern Healthcare [subscription required], 8/8; ACP release, 8/8).


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