AMA Wire

Friday, March 29, 2013

Special Feature

The Litigation Center: A powerful advocate for the medical profession

The Litigation Center: A powerful advocate for the medical profession

Autonomy. Fair payment. Communication with patients. Physicians' rights are regularly threatened from many sectors in courts around the country. But physicians do not stand alone: They have a powerful advocate by their side in the Litigation Center of the AMA and State Medical Societies.

Established in 1995, the Litigation Center has participated in more than 250 cases—many of them setting important legal precedents with practical applications for the medical profession and patients.

Currently, the Litigation Center is involved in six cases pending before the Supreme Court of the United States, 15 cases before state supreme courts and many more in courts  across America.

In Marshall, Minn., for instance, the Litigation Center filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting a physician fight for self-governance in the hospital setting.

In this case, the medical staff of Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center is seeking to re-establish its autonomy after the hospital's governing board unilaterally amended the medical staff's bylaws, effectively stripping physicians of "nearly all rights and responsibilities." By depriving physicians of their authority in processes that require medical direction, the hospital has upset the necessary balance between patient safety and corporate interests.

The medical staff is backed by the AMA and five other medical associations through the work of the Litigation Center. Read more in a recent news release.

In Georgia, the Litigation Center and the Medical Association of Georgia filed a friend-of-the-court brief last week, backing the state's authority to regulate unfair business practices by companies hired to pay medical bills. Read more elsewhere in AMA Wire.

Other cases in which the Litigation Center is standing up for the medical profession include:

  • Sutter v. Oxford Health Plans, which questions the right of physicians to contest a health insurer's wrongful business dealings with doctors as a class. The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in this case Monday and is expected to issue a decision this summer.
  • Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, in which the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether universities may employ a holistic review of applicants for admissions decisions, including prospective medical students.
  • Federal Trade Commission v. Watson Pharmaceuticals, which seeks to cut through barriers created by pharmaceutical manufacturers to prevent the sale of affordable generics. Oral arguments for this case were heard by the U.S. Supreme Court Monday.
  • Association for Molecular Pathology v. United States Patent and Trademark Office, in which the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether human genes are patentable. The court will hear oral arguments April 15.

Learn more about these legal proceedings and many others in the AMA's online summary of ongoing and concluded cases.

With the Litigation Center on their side, physicians can rest assured that their best interests and those of their patients and practices have a strong voice in the nation's courts.