AMA adopts physician employment principles

As part of its semi-annual policy-making meeting in Hawaii this week, the American Medical Association’s House of Delegates adopted a set of principles for physician employment.

The AMA’s decision to formally set out principles for physician employment comes after several years of increasing employment of physicians by hospitals and other medical groups said Joseph Annis, MD, an AMA board member.

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“We need something to help physicians know where the guardrails should be,” said Annis. This is particularly true for younger physicians who are just leaving medical school and entering employment situations who don’t yet have the experience or know-how to safeguard themselves in contract negotiations with a potential employer.

AMA’s physician employment guidelines, Annis said, try to enhance the cooperation and collaboration between physicians and hospitals or other employment organizations.

“We hope that when the physicians who have used this information – when they deal with the hospitals – they will be more informed” he said. “It’ll be better for them, and hopefully it will be better for the relationship between the hospital or whatever entity it is and the physician, too, because the physician knows the questions to ask ahead of time before (signing) on the dotted line.”

To help doctors, the AMA’s five-page principles for physician employment addresses conflicts of interest, contracting, hospital medical staff relations, peer review and performance evaluations and payment agreements.

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The physician employment document, Annis said, is about ensuring that physicians retain autonomy to care for patients and that their economic well-being is not harmed due to a lack of understanding of how contracts work and how to negotiate contracts.