The American Medical Association is out-doing itself. The organization is opposing key parts of Obama’s health care reform plans, for which they are being roundly criticized even by physicians (letters to the editor in the New York Times). They are, of course, working on anti-CPM and anti-home birth “model” legislation to put into place their resolutions from last year.
But to top off their display of arrogance, the objective of a new proposed resolution seeks to punish patients who are not “compliant” with the idea that doctors should not have to put up with patients who seek to assert their right to make the final decisions on their own medical care.
International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN) has posted an excellent press release on this latest outrage, which I have also pasted below.
Susan Hodges, “gatekeeper”
AMA Resolution Would Seek to Label “Ungrateful” Patients
Redondo Beach, CA, June 11, 2009 - At the American Medical Association’s (AMA) Annual Meeting next week, delegates will vote on a resolution which proposes to develop CPT (billing) codes to identify and label “non-compliant” patients (1) 
The resolution complains:
“The stress of dealing with ungrateful patients is adding to the stress of physicians leading to decreased physician satisfaction.”
“This resolution is alarming in its arrogance and its failure to recognize, or even pay lip service to, patient autonomy,” said Desirre Andrews, the newly elected president of the International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN).
If approved, the resolution could hold implications for women receiving maternity care. For pregnant women seeking quality care and good outcomes, “non-compliance” is often their only alternative to accepting sub-standard care. Physicians routinely order interventions like induction, episiotomy, or cesarean section unnecessarily.
Liz Dutzy, a mother from Olathe, Kansas, delivered her first two babies by cesarean and was told by her obstetrician that she needed another surgical delivery. “My doctor told me that I needed to have a cesarean delivery at 39 weeks, or my uterus would rupture and my baby would die.” She sought out another care provider and had a healthy and safe intervention-
A recent report by Childbirth Connection and The Milbank Memorial Fund, called “Evidence-Based Maternity Care: What It Is and What It Can Achieve ,” (2)  shows that the state of maternity care in the U.S. is worrisome, driven largely by a failure of care providers to heed evidence-based care practices. For most women in the U.S., care practices that have been proven to make childbirth easier and safer are underused, and interventions that may increase risks to mothers and babies are routinely overused. The authors of the report point to the “perinatal paradox” of doing more, but accomplishing less.
The resolution proposed by the Michigan delegation of the AMA could threaten patient care and patient autonomy for several reasons:
• Billing codes that would categorize any disagreement and exercise of autonomy on the part of the patient as “non-compliance” “abuse” or “hostility” could create a pathway for insurance companies to deny coverage to patients
• Use of these labels fails to recognize patients as competent partners with physicians in their own care
• Tagging patients as “non-compliant” fails to recognize that there is not a “one size fits all” approach to care, that different opinions among physicians abound, and that patients are entitled to these very same differences of opinion
• Labeling patients as “non-compliant” may, in fact, be punitive, jeopardizing a patient’s ability to seek out other care providers
The resolution also fails to address how it would implicate patients navigating controversial issues in medical care, like vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC). While a substantive body of medical research demonstrates that VBAC is reasonably safe, if not safer, than repeat cesareans, most physicians and hospitals refuse to support VBAC. (3)  The language in the resolution suggests that patients who assert their right to opt for VBAC could be tagged as non-compliant, even though their choice would be consistent with the medical research.
“The reality is that the balance of power in the physician-patient relationship is decidedly tipped towards physicians. The least patients should have is the right to disagree with their doctors and not be labeled a ‘naughty’ patient,” said Andrews.
About Cesareans: When a cesarean is medically necessary, it can be a lifesaving technique for both mother and baby, and worth the risks involved. Potential risks to babies from cesareans include: low birth weight, prematurity, respiratory problems, and lacerations. Potential risks to women include : hemorrhage, infection, hysterectomy, surgical mistakes, re-hospitalization, dangerous placental abnormalities in future pregnancies, unexplained stillbirth in future pregnancies and increased percentage of maternal death.
Mission statement: ICAN is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve maternal-child health by preventing unnecessary cesareans through education, providing support for cesarean recovery and promoting vaginal birth after cesarean. ICAN has 110 chapters in North America and Europe, which hold educational and support meetings for people interested in cesarean prevention and recovery.
(1) Resolution 710 “Identifying Abusive, Hostile or Non-Compliant Patients” 
(2) Evidence-Based Maternity Care: What It Is and What It Can Achieve 
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