At the recent AMA meeting medical students, led by Benjamin Mazer, submitted a proposal for guidelines on the ethics of physicians who use the media to disseminate questionable information.
The proposal, (
study existing and potential disciplinary pathways for physicians who violate ethical responsibilities through their communication on a media platform.
The AMA will now be taking the lead in crafting ethical and professional guidelines for physicians who wish to disseminate medical information in the media. The AMA will also write a report describing how physicians may be subject to discipline for violating medical ethics in the media. And finally, the AMA will be releasing a public statement reiterating our professional values and condemning doctors who use the media unethically.
As the resolution notes
a statement affirming the professional and ethical obligation of physicians in the media to provide quality medical advice supported by evidence-based principles and transparent to any conflicts of interest, while denouncing the dissemination of dubious or inappropriate medical information through the public media including television, radio, internet, and print media;
I will note that,
The AMA and ethics are not terms I usually use in the same sentence. As an example, as the
US physicians who don’t belong to the American Medical Association (AMA)—now the great majority of US doctors—are sometimes astounded to learn that the AMA is collecting data on them and selling it to commercial enterprises for millions of dollars…All the data are a major source of revenue, pumping almost $52m (£31m; €38m) into the AMA’s coffers, according to its annual report for 2012, the latest year available. The report also said it cost just $8.8m to administer the data, making for a 650% return on investment.
So forgive me if I expect the end result to be watered down and useless at best. As my wife likes to note, if you want to predict future behavior, look at the past.
While aimed at Dr Oz et. al., the proposal would also appear to apply to every Integrative Medical program in the US. Any hospital that offers reiki, acupuncture, energy therapy, chiropractic, etc that uses the web would be at risk.
Another reason I have little confidence that the eventual product, if it ever emerges from committee, will have any teeth.
But I wish them the best.
Man. Now I sound like one of those conspiracy nuts. So I must be wrong. The eventual statement will undoubtably be a ringing endorsement of science-based medicine.