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Did You Know?

The AMA weekly feature—"Did You Know?"—shared selected facts from the association’s rich history showing how the AMA has improved our health care system for America’s physicians and patients throughout the last 165 years.

Did You Know?

The AMA helped spearhead recognition of medical specialty boards

That’s right. Efforts in the 1930s by the AMA and the Advisory Board for Medical Specialties (which would become the American Board of Medical Specialties) established official recognition of specialty boards in medicine.

Learn more about the AMA’s strategy to accelerate change in medical education.

The AMA is the leading advocate against racial and ethnic disparities in health care.

That’s right. In 2004, the AMA brought together leaders from more than 30 health organizations to tackle the emerging issue of health disparities. That effort continues today with the Commission to End Health Care Disparities.

The AMA led the charge in developing standards for training hospitals

That’s right. A century ago the AMA set standards for hospital internship programs to help ensure that resident physicians received the best training possible. The AMA also published the first list of approved hospitals offering such programs.

This is just one aspect of medical education the AMA has helped lead. See the AMA’s strategy to accelerate change in medical education to find out what it’s working on today.

The AMA empowers physicians to challenge insurance companies about unfair billing practices

That’s right. In the last five years, the AMA’s National Health Insurer Report Card has transformed the chaotic health insurance billing and payment system and dramatically cut the number of medical claims paid incorrectly. The AMA estimates an additional $7 billion could be saved—and used to improve patient care—if insurers consistently paid claims correctly.

Learn more about the AMA’s strategy to improve practice sustainability.

The AMA is a leading source of cutting edge information for many medical specialties

That’s right. Every two weeks, the AMA’s JAMA Network publishes nine peer-reviewed journals covering such specialties as internal medicine, pediatrics and surgery, among others. The oldest of these journals, JAMA Ophthalmology, launched in 1869 as the Archives of Ophthalmology and Otology.

An AMA-led lawsuit resulted in the return of $200 million to physicians

That’s right. Thanks to the AMA Litigation Center, nearly $200 million in awards were paid to settle claims from physicians for 15 years of artificially low payments from UnitedHealth Group.

Learn more about how the AMA continues to fight against practices that threaten physician sustainability and the patient-physician relationship.

The AMA published the first list of continuing medical education courses in 1954

That's right. And in the early 1960s, the AMA continued its CME leadership role by developing standards for the evaluation and accreditation of all CME programs.

Today, the AMA offers a variety of CME activities to help physicians meet their professional needs.

The AMA protected patients' rights to hear all their treatment options from doctors

That’s right. In the 1990s, as a way to control health care costs, insurance companies began imposing "gag clauses," which limited what doctors could say to their patients about treatment options. The AMA led the charge against gag clauses and won passage of key legislation that protects patients and the patient-physician relationship.

Today, AMA continues to work to reform managed care so it provides the best possible outcomes for patients.

The AMA believes tobacco is such a health hazard that it will only meet in smoke-free facilities

That's right. For decades, the AMA has challenged the tobacco companies, holding them accountable for the health effects of their products and calling for laws that help patients quit smoking. Behind the scenes, the AMA also prohibited investment of AMA funds in tobacco stocks and required all AMA House of Delegates meetings take place in smoke-free facilities.

Learn more about the AMA strategy to improve health outcomes.

The AMA has been tackling the most timely ethical issues in medicine for nearly 140 years

That’s right. It started in 1873 when the AMA founded a Judicial Council to answer the ethical and constitutional controversies of the day. Now known as the Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs, that body sets AMA ethics policy and maintains and updates the 165-year-old AMA Code of Medical Ethics, which is widely recognized as the most comprehensive ethics guide for physicians.

Learn more about how the AMA helps physicians and medical students uphold the highest standards of ethics and professionalism.

The AMA has been the public's favorite source of health information for nearly a century

That’s right. It all started with a magazine launched in 1923 called Hygeia, which led to Today’s Health in 1950. Reader’s Digest and other magazines reprinted its articles and it had a television spin-off, too. Today, the AMA uses its website, Facebook, Twitter and the JAMA Patient Page to share health information with patients.

Learn more about the AMA's work to improve public health.

The AMA pushed the Federal Aviation Administration to require airlines to separate nonsmokers from s

That's right. And in 1971, United Airlines became the first to offer separate smoking sections. In the early 1970s, the AMA stepped up its war on smoking by urging the government to reduce and control the use of tobacco products and supporting legislation prohibiting the disbursement of free samples of tobacco.

Learn more about the AMA’s work to improve public health.

The AMA was the national leader in opposing discrimination against AIDS patients

That's right. In 1986, when fear and ignorance about AIDS were sweeping the country, the AMA stood up for AIDS patients and opposed laws that would lead to discrimination or threaten patient-physician confidentiality. By 1987, the AMA outlined a comprehensive approach for the prevention and control of AIDS and adopted an AIDS public awareness and information program.

Learn more about the AMA’s work to improve public health.

The AMA stopped "drive-through deliveries"

That's right. In the early days of managed care, new mothers were sent home the same day they delivered their babies. But thanks to the AMA's campaign against "drive-through" deliveries, a federal law was passed requiring insurance companies to provide appropriate hospitalization and maternity stays.

Learn more about the AMA strategy to improve health outcomes.

The AMA began urging healthy eating more than seven decades ago

That's right. In 1938, the AMA published The Normal Diet, which contained the first authoritative dietary recommendations for Americans. Today, the AMA continues that effort by helping physicians assist their patients in living healthier lives.

This is just one way in which the AMA works to improve public health. Find out more by reading about its focus on improving health outcomes.

The AMA was a leading proponent in raising the legal drinking age to 21

That's right. Because a higher minimum legal drinking age helps reduce alcohol-related deaths and injuries among youth, the AMA called for all states to raise the legal drinking age to 21 in 1982. By 1988, all states finally heeded the call.

Read more about AMA efforts against alcohol and other drug abuse.

The AMA in 1978 supported state legislation mandating the use of seat belts for infants and children

That's right. Today, all 50 states require child safety seats for infants and children that meet specific criteria.

Learn more about the AMA’s work to improve public health.

The AMA forced tobacco companies to admit their products were deadly

That's right. After decades of denying that cigarettes were addictive or caused cancer, tobacco companies had to answer to the Journal of the American Medical Association, which published statements from the companies' own memos and papers proving they knew the perils of their products for more than 30 years.

Visit the new JAMA Network of journals

The AMA works to inspire minority students to become doctors

That's right. Through its Doctors Back to School program, the AMA works to inspire everyone, but especially minority children, to consider the medical field as a profession. African-American, Hispanic and American Indian physicians are more likely to practice in underserved areas and provide care for minority, poor and uninsured patients.

Learn more about the AMA strategy to improve health outcomes.

The AMA was the main opponent to cigarette advertising aimed at children

That's right. In the early 1990s the AMA called for an end to tobacco advertising that targeted children. The AMA’s urging became law in 1998 and teen smoking dropped dramatically.

Learn more about the AMA's work to improve public health.

The AMA was the first major health group to encourage exercise

That's right. The AMA urged people to “specialize in exercise” to feel better, look better and sleep better -- in the 1950s! This advice still rings true – especially around the holidays. Just this year the AMA joined the CDC in urging Americans (again) to make exercise a regular part of their lives.

Learn more about the AMA's work to improve public health.

The AMA has published cutting edge thinking on medical education for a century

That's right. The Journal of the American Medical Association published its first issue dedicated to medical education in 1901, and every year since continues to devote an entire issue to the best thinking on the most successful ways to train physicians.

Learn more about the AMA's strategic focus on accelerating change in medical education.

The AMA called for seat belts in all cars a decade before Ralph Nader did

That's right. In 1954, the AMA called for safety belts in all automobiles and encouraged drivers to "buy a seat belt for each member of your family." That was 13 years before the U.S. government finally made seat belts a requirement for all cars.

Learn more about the AMA's work to improve public health.

AMA has been the leading advocate for improving health outcomes since late 1800s

That's right. In the early years, improving health outcomes meant protecting patients from patent medicines and "doctors" without medical training; now it means developing clinical and patient-reported outcomes that ensure health equity and advance quality and safety.

Learn more about the AMA-convened Physician Consortium for Performance Improvement, the national, physician-led program dedicated to enhancing quality and patient safety.

The AMA has awarded nearly $1 million to support free health clinics over the last 5 years

That's right. Through the AMA Foundation, the AMA has supported 56 physician-led free clinics with nearly $1 million since 2007 through the Healthy Communities/Healthy America program. Since its founding, the AMA has been committed to caring for the sick, regardless of ability to pay.

The AMA has been advancing medical science through its renowned publication, JAMA, since 1883

That's right. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has been connecting physicians around the globe with insights that shape the future of medicine and help them continually learn about improvements to patient care since 1883.

For more on how the JAMA Network continues to reach millions of people worldwide, visit Facebook, Twitter, and weekly video news releases.

The AMA created ethical standards for the U.S. medical profession

That's right. In fact, the first Code of Medical Ethics was adopted at the AMA's founding meeting in 1847 by 250 delegates from 28 states in the hall of The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The AMA continues to explore ethical issues through the Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs.

The AMA has been a strong advocate against drunk driving since 1945

That's right. While drunk driving didn't become a prominent public health issue until the 1980s, it was the AMA that recommended limits to determine the influence of alcohol on suspected drunk drivers way back in 1945.

Learn more about the AMA's work to improve public health.

The AMA has been fighting for women physicians since the mid-1800s

That's right. While female physicians were highly uncommon in the 19th century, the AMA encouraged them and gained its first female member in 1876. In the 1970s, the AMA spoke out against gender discrimination in medical institutions. Today, nearly half of all students entering medical school are women.

For more on how the AMA has charted a path for America's women physicians, read about the AMA's Women in Medicine Month celebration.

The AMA is the standard bearer for medical education in the U.S.

That's right. It was the AMA's work beginning in the mid-1800s that led to the formation and implementation of U.S. standards for physician training. In the early 1900s, the AMA's Council on Medical Education recommended standards that were later adopted by the Carnegie Foundation sponsored Flexner Report. This comprehensive study published in 1910 facilitated new standards for medical schools.

The AMA's role as a leader in medical education continues as part of its strategic plan. Learn about how the AMA is accelerating change in medical education.