Family Physicians Group Decries 'Legislative Interference' in Physician-Patient Relationship

October 25, 2012 — The American Academy of Family Physicians at a meeting last week passed resolutions supporting physician-patient confidentiality and the right of doctors to follow their consciences, MedPage Today reports.

"[T]he 2012 election season has seen unprecedented legislative interference with the physician-patient relationship including legally mandated unnecessary medical procedures," such as ultrasounds before abortions, the AAFP Congress of Delegates noted in a report. Other examples of government interference include state-mandated "informed consent containing controversial medical 'facts' and legislative immunity for physicians withholding relevant medical facts from patients," according to the report.

One resolution affirmed AAFP's opposition to "any and all legislation at both the state and federal level" that interferes with a doctors' right to discuss any matter to optimize their patients' care and to preserve the sanctity of the physician-patient relationship.

The delegates also discussed legal challenges to the federal contraceptive coverage rules as they relate to a provision in the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) regarding protections for providers who refuse to provide certain services, including contraception, for reasons of conscience.

AAFP's policy on contraceptive services states, "If the family physician is uncomfortable providing these services, the patient should be referred to another physician or provider who is willing to provide the education and/or service."

At the meeting last week, the delegates affirmed AAFP's commitment to allowing physicians to practice medicine in accordance with their consciences, "without resulting in loss of licensure or significant financial penalty."

Earlier in the week, AAFP also approved a resolution reiterating its support for access to emergency contraception without age restrictions (Kaiser, MedPage Today, 10/22).