“Rheumatology is very multidisciplinary,” says rheumatologist Jane Kang, MD, MS, chair of the ACR’s Committee on Ethics and Conflict of Interest. “We interact with a lot of specialists and other healthcare providers. For us, it’s always important to interact with other members of the healthcare team.”
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Explore This IssueFebruary 2017
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Other Additions & Considerations
The modernized Code of Ethics now also explicitly addresses advanced care planning. However, this addition was made in November 2016 at the interim AMA House of Delegates meeting, so is not yet reflected in printed versions of the code. Currently, the AMA is also considering opinion on the ethics of responsibility and competence in medicine.
“Physicians have the responsibility to be self aware and ask, ‘Am I, at this moment, able to provide safe care for this patient, being aware that when I am not, I have to consult a colleague, transfer the patient to a colleague or reschedule a procedure?’” says Dr. Crigger.
This applies not just to instances of substance abuse or mental health challenges, but also to instances in which physical challenges interfere with a physician’s ability to perform.
Dr. Crigger says updates continue to be considered and opinions adopted. “The code continuously evolves over time,” she says.
Streamlined & Organized
Since the review began, the process of including new opinions in the code has also been streamlined. The AMA adopted a uniform format to which all new opinions must adhere. Drs. Crigger and Kao hope it helps the code maintain the consistency that the previous version lacked.
The Code of Ethics was also organized into chapters—including patient-physician relationships, genetics and reproductive medicine, and research and innovation—making it easier to find topics of interest, and understand and apply them, says Crigger.
“It’s more clearly organized,” says Dr. Kang, who is interested in examining particular aspects of the updates and how they may overlap or impact the ACR Code of Ethics.3
“There are always new therapies and advancements in medicine, which brings light to new ethical considerations. Regulations and codes then need to catch up with the rapidly evolving medical landscape,” says Dr. Kang. “In rheumatology, we have a lot of new therapies being investigated. As we have new treatments available, new ethical matters in research and clinical care will arise, so it makes sense to have an updated code.”
Kelly April Tyrrell writes about health, science and health policy. She lives in Madison, Wis.