Gun Violence, Physician Employment Lead List of Policies Adopted by Massachusetts Medical Society at its Annual Meeting

Contact:
Richard P. Gulla
(781) 434-7099
rgulla@mms.org

Waltham, Mass. -- May 11, 2013 – Policies on gun violence and principles of physician employment led the list of resolutions adopted as policies by physicians of the Massachusetts Medical Society at the organization’s annual meeting of its House of Delegates on Saturday, May 11 in Boston. 

The Society's Annual Meeting brings together hundreds of Massachusetts physicians from across the state to examine and consider specific resolutions and reports brought forth by members to the Society’s House of Delegates, its policy-making body. Resolutions approved by the membership become policies of the organization.

Policy on gun violence
Stating that the MMS “be guided by the principles of reducing the number of deaths, disabilities, and injuries attributable to guns, making gun ownership safer, and encouraging research to understand the risk factors related to gun violence and deaths,”  delegates adopted a policy on gun violence that included several provisions. 

Most notably, the policy reaffirms the right of physicians to discuss with patients gun safety and the ownership and storage of guns within the duty and privacy of obtaining a medical history, and it encourages health care providers to review gun safety as a routine component of preventive care. The policy also provides for the MMS to promote and support state legislative efforts to make licensing and background checks mandatory for all firearm sales and for the MMS to advocate that the American Medical Association support federal efforts to do the same on a national level.

Physician employment
Voting on a proposal stating that a “physician’s paramount responsibility is to his or her patients” and that “patient advocacy is a fundamental element of the patient-physician relationship that should not be altered by the health care system or setting in which physicians practice,” MMS delegates adopted a comprehensive policy on Principles for Physician Employment, covering seven areas: conflicts of interest, advocacy for patients and the profession, contracting, hospital staff medical relations, peer review and performance evaluations, payment agreements, and physician independence self-governance. Delegates noted that the policy is consistent with the MMS strategic priorities of physician advocacy and representation and patient advocacy.

Among other policies adopted by the delegates:  

Abuses and neglect of children: The Society updated its policy on the abuse and neglect of children by voting to continue to support initiatives to increase the knowledge of physicians, other health workers, and the public by improving education and training methods for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of child abuse.  

Hospice benefit: Delegates adopted a resolution to advocate for legislation or regulation providing a hospice benefit to all patients under Massachusetts public health plans.

Oral health: Delegates voted to establish a committee on oral health, with the intent of increasing public awareness of the relationship and importance of good oral health to good physical health.

The Society also approved policies on its strategic priorities for the next year, focusing on improving health care quality, access, and equity for patients, while delivering cost-effective care and promoting a sound public health system for the Commonwealth. It also reaffirmed long-standing policies on a number of subjects, including obesity, end-of-life care and advance directives, and improving care for patients with language and cultural barriers. 

The Massachusetts Medical Society, with more than 24,000 physicians and student members, is dedicated to educating and advocating for the patients and physicians of Massachusetts. The Society publishes the New England Journal of Medicine, a leading global medical journal and web site, and Journal Watch alerts and newsletters covering 13 specialties. The Society is also a leader in continuing medical education for health care professionals throughout Massachusetts, conducting a variety of medical education programs for physicians and health care professionals. Founded in 1781, MMS is the oldest continuously operating medical society in the country. For more information please visit www.massmed.org, www.nejm.org or www.jwatch.org.

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