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AMA News Room

Nov. 16, 2015

AMA Adopts New Policies to Improve Health of Nation on Day One of Interim Meeting

For immediate release:
Nov. 16, 2015

ATLANTA - The American Medical Association (AMA), the premier national physician organization, gathered physician and medical student leaders representing all aspects of medicine during its Interim Meeting and today voted to adopt new policies on emerging health care topics.

The AMA's House of Delegates is the policy-making body at the center of American medicine, bringing together an inclusive group of physicians, medical students and residents representing every state and medical field. Delegates work in a democratic process to create a national physician consensus on emerging issues in public health, science, ethics, business and government to continually provide safer, higher quality and more efficient care for patients and communities.

The policies adopted by the House of Delegates today include:

Ensuring Access to Mental Health Care for Medical Students, Resident and Fellow Physicians

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, approximately 300 to 400 physicians die as a result of suicide in the U.S. each year and the rate of depression among medical students is 15 to 30 percent higher than the general population. In an effort to address this growing need, the AMA today adopted policy aimed at ensuring medical students and resident and fellow physicians have access to potentially life-saving mental health services during their medical training.

A recent study in JAMA Psychiatry found that despite an increase in suicidal thoughts and mental health problems among resident physicians, very few actually seek mental health services—citing concerns about confidentiality as one of the main reasons. To help address this barrier to care, the AMA's new policy promotes confidential, accessible, and affordable mental health services for medical students and resident and fellow physicians.

"Medical training can exacerbate risk factors for mental illness, such as sleep deprivation and relocation to a new environment with little support and that is why it's so important to increase access to mental health care services for any student or resident physician who is experiencing depression or suicidal thoughts, and find ways to continue to reduce the barriers that may stand in the way of getting the care they need," said AMA student board member Dina Marie Pitta, M.P.P.

Improving Access to Naloxone to Prevent Opioid Overdose and Save Lives

Building upon the AMA's efforts to combat opioid misuse and overdose, the AMA today adopted policy to increase access to naloxone, a life-saving medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose by restoring breathing and preventing death. According to the CDC, naloxone is responsible for saving the lives of more than 26,000 people in the U.S since 1996.

To help increase access to naloxone for patients at risk of overdose, as well as make naloxone more readily available to family members and close friends of those at increased risk of overdose, the new policy encourages manufacturers or other qualified sponsors to pursue the Food and Drug Administration's application process for approval of naloxone as an over the counter medication.

"Opioid abuse has reached epidemic levels in our country with 44 people dying each day from opioid-related overdose. We must continue to do everything we can to address this public health crisis. We must do everything we can to prevent opioid-related overdoses and save lives," said AMA Board Member William E. Kobler, M.D. 

The AMA has long advocated in support of important initiatives aimed at addressing prescription drug abuse and diversion. In July, the AMA convened the Task Force to Reduce Opioid Abuse to identify the best practices to curb opioid abuse and move swiftly to implement those practices across the country. This includes increasing the registration and use of prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMP), enhancing physician education, reducing the stigma of having an opioid disorder, improving access to comprehensive pain management, and increasing access to naloxone.

The AMA will also continue to work with the administration and Congress toward developing balanced approaches to end prescription opioid misuse, as well as supporting congressional and state efforts to modernize and fully fund PDMPs.


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