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AMA to USA Today: Don't legislate medicine

May 28, 2012 (published)

USA Today
Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

Decisions about a patient's medical care should be left to the patient and his or her physician without government intrusion ("Column: Where are the doctors?").

Lawmakers should not dictate or prohibit the use of certain medical practices, nor should they threaten the open communication between patient and physician. Physicians rely on their expertise and training, supported by evidence-based medicine and clinical guidelines, to provide appropriate care to their patients.

As a practicing OB/GYN, protecting the sanctity of the patient-physician relationship is a vital issue for me. The ability of physicians to determine appropriate treatment options and have open, honest, confidential communications with their patients is an essential value that must be protected.

Intrusive legislation sets a dangerous precedent that would allow government and/or other third parties to mandate what tests, procedures or medicines must be provided to patients. If these efforts are not stopped, patients and our health care system will lose.

The American Medical Association opposes legislative and governmental intrusion into the clinical examination room and calls on lawmakers to leave determination of what constitutes medically necessary treatment where it belongs - in the hands of physicians and patients.

Robert M. Wah, MD
board chair, American Medical Association