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Council On Ethical And Judicial Affairs Open Forum

In conformity with Resolution 14 (I-94), which requires the Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs (CEJA) to "conduct an Open Forum at all future meetings for the purpose of discussing pending ethical opinion issues," the 2010 Interim Meeting Open Forum will be held:

Monday, Nov. 18, 2013
9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, Potomac C
National Harbor, Md.

The Open Forum is open to all AMA members, interested non-members, other guests, and the press.

New Proposed Issues

Open Forum attendees are invited to introduce emerging ethical issues that may warrant attention from CEJA and inclusion in the AMA "Code of Medical Ethics."

Modernizing the AMA's Code of Medical Ethics

At the end of 2008, the HOD accepted an information report from the Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs (5-I-08) which described the Code modernization project: a multi-year project to critically review and update the Code of Medical Ethics. That work is now entering its final stage.

As stated in the report, "To ensure that the Code effectively serves as the leading source of ethical guidance for the profession, it is important that periodically it be systematically reviewed and comprehensively updated. The last such review was carried out more than 30 years ago." That report also promised that CEJA would submit yearly informational reports with the status of the project. In 2009 (4-I-09), CEJA issued one such report which explained the need for a uniform consistency (and thus the need to reformat almost all opinions), "As the Code has evolved to meet new challenges in medical science and the delivery of health care, Opinions have been presented in a variety of formats. This can present a challenge for interpreting the ethical guidance provided in different Opinions." Because this reformatting affects almost every opinion, it is important for AMA members to understand why the Code will look so different from its current version. As CEJA noted in 6-I-13, "The Code of Medical Ethics embodies the accumulated wisdom of the HOD and CEJA's goal has been to preserve that wisdom and to carry out its work through a transparent process."

CEJA Report 6-I-13 explains that the project involves three stages (the first two of which are complete): (1) reviewing all the current opinions for relevance/timeliness of guidance, clarity and consistency; (2) draft development by CEJA working groups, reviewed by the full Council; (3) CEJA will share its work product with the HOD.

The final stage of the Code modernization project (beginning online after I-13 and scheduled to be formally presented at A-14 and I-14) depends on AMA members in the HOD understanding the work product. This is important in and of itself, and participants should find this Open Forum to be essential to that understanding. However, participants will also find that understanding how the Code is currently written (and how it will be updated) will clarify where and how to identify the ethical guidance in each opinion, and find that educational in itself.

Procedural Guidelines

A member of the Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs will briefly present each topic on the agenda. After an issue has been introduced, the audience will be invited to discuss, with the Council, the ethical and professional considerations most relevant to the development of ethical guidelines on the topic at hand. In addition, the Council will collect written testimony for consideration at the time of the Open Forum or prior to it. Advance written testimony can be submitted to the Council staff, by e-mail at danielle.hahn@ama-assn.org or by fax at (312) 464-4799. Written testimony submitted to the Council will be given the same consideration as if it had been delivered orally.

Any member of the Association is privileged to speak on agenda items. Members should be mindful to disclose any conflict of interest that may influence their testimony. All other individuals should request from the Chair the privilege to provide oral testimony, indicating their identity and affiliation. Such a request will be honored upon approval of the Chair. Due to time constraints or other considerations, however, the Chair may not approve such requests.

All commentary should directly relate to the AMA Principles of Medical Ethics:

I. A physician shall be dedicated to providing competent medical care, with compassion and respect for human dignity and rights.

II. A physician shall uphold the standards of professionalism, be honest in all professional interactions, and strive to report physicians deficient in character or competence, or engaging in fraud or deception, to appropriate entities.

III. A physician shall respect the law and also recognize a responsibility to seek changes in those requirements, which are contrary to the best interests of the patient.

IV. A physician shall respect the rights of patients, colleagues, and other health professionals, and shall safeguard patient confidences and privacy within the constraints of the law.

V. A physician shall continue to study, apply, and advance scientific knowledge, maintain a commitment to medical education, make relevant information available to patients, colleagues, and the public, obtain consultation, and use the talents of other health professionals when indicated.

VI. A physician shall, in the provision of appropriate patient care, except in emergencies, be free to choose whom to serve, with whom to associate, and the environment in which to provide medical care.

VII. A physician shall recognize a responsibility to participate in activities contributing to the improvement of the community and the betterment of public health.

VIII. A physician shall, while caring for a patient, regard responsibility to the patient as paramount.

IX. A physician shall support access to medical care for all people.

The Chair may establish rules on the presentation of testimony with respect to time constraints, repetitive statements, etc. The Chair also has the authority to prohibit photography, filming, and audio or video recording if the Chair feels that such factors would be undesirable for the orderly conduct of the meeting. Adherence to these guidelines will ensure that the forum runs smoothly and that the results are satisfactory to all.

Disclosure. The content of this activity does not relate to any product of a commercial interest as defined by the ACCME; therefore, there are no relevant financial relationships to disclose.

Learning Objectives

  • Summarize the Code modernization process
  • Participate in the Code modernization process, both in the online forum and in House of Delegates proceedings.
  • Describe how to use the Code of Medical Ethics as a resource for resolving ethical dilemmas in medical practice.
  • Identify key ethical values in individual ethics opinions.
The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this educational activity for a maximum of 1.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.