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AMA Letter to Physicians

AMA Letter to Physicians

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Published by edmontonjournal

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Published by: edmontonjournal on Mar 17, 2011
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03/17/2011

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Dr. Patrick J. (P.J.) White 
March 17, 2011Dear Member:
 
In this letter:
 
Promoting a culture of openness and engagement 
 
AMA supports a public inquiry
 
Expectations for the agreement in principle
The medical profession is being drawn into the maelstrom of Alberta politics as health caredominates Question Period and media reportage.The focus continues relentlessly on the issue of advocacy and the time-honored responsibility ofthe medical profession to speak out for quality patient care. The Alberta Medical Association(AMA) has a well-documented history in supporting this kind of advocacy, in fact we havedirectly supported physicians involved in a number of the high-profile cases that have beenfeatured in media coverage.Based on the public discourse
and related d
iscussion at last weekend’s meeting of the 125
-delegate Representative Forum
there are concerns that, when speaking out, physicians maynot feel they will be heard or may fear negative consequences. Personally, I have no doubt thatthe first instinct of physicians is always to stand up for patients, but the fact that theseperceptions are out there at all is a source for concern, while the assertions related tointimidation are disturbing.So, what do we do about it? How do we move forward? How do we move to a system that notonly permits criticism, but also openly encourages all providers to share their issues andconcerns in an effort to improve patient care?One proposal being put forward is that government should call a full public inquiry regardingthe issue of intimidation. While I am not an expert in the various approaches that may be taken,an open and full review is needed to clear the air and move forward. The AMA will supportand cooperate with such an approach if this occurs.I hope that the climate of trust can be improved and I think there are things that can contributeto improvement. The AMA, Alberta Health Services (AHS) and the College of Physicians &

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