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Ethics Panel Discusses "Doing" Professionalism

ACP leadership discussed current ethical issues and the importance of professionalism at a press briefing held at Internal Medicine 2007. Panelists included (left to right): William E. Golden, MD, MACP, Chair, Board of Regents; Paul Mueller, MD, MPH, FACP Member, ACP Ethics, Professionalism and Human Rights Committee; Lynne M. Kirk, MD, MACP, ACP President; and Fred Turton, MD, FACP, Chair, ACP Ethics, Professionalism and Human Rights Committee.


ACP leadership discussed current ethical issues and the importance of professionalism at a press briefing held at Internal Medicine 2007. Panelists included (left to right): William E. Golden, MD, MACP, Chair, Board of Regents; Paul Mueller, MD, MPH, FACP Member, ACP Ethics, Professionalism and Human Rights Committee; Lynne M. Kirk, MD, MACP, ACP President; and Fred Turton, MD, FACP, Chair, ACP Ethics, Professionalism and Human Rights Committee.



SAN DIEGO, April 19, 2007 - A panel of respected internists -- doctors of internal medicine -- discussed what it means to be a professional and other current ethical issues at a special press briefing during the annual meeting of the American College of Physicians (ACP) in San Diego.

ACP is hosting 6,000 physicians for Internal Medicine 2007, April 19-21, in that city at the San Diego Convention Center.

Lynne Kirk, MD, FACP, (Fellow of the ACP), ACP President, described medical professionalism not as slogans or recipes in a cookbook, but as an everyday pattern of trust, communication and empathy on the part of the physician. "Doing" professionalism, said Dr. Kirk, involves respecting the patient's wishes, rights and desires for adequate time for office visits; listening to and being present for the patient; co-ordinating treatment among providers and settings, and counseling about decisions for treatment recommendations and the role of the family in care.

Fred Turton, MD, FACP, Chair of the ACP Ethics, Professionalism and Human Rights Committee, described the committee's activities during the year, highlighting the College's commitment to professionalism and to putting the patient first. Turton noted the number of workshops the committee has developed for the San Diego meeting and introduced a new pamphlet, "Volunteering for a Research Study," that the committee developed.

Dr. Turton also discussed the new "Ethics Manifesto: Pay for Performance Principles that Ensure the Promotion of Patient Centered Care" from the committee. "The quality movement in health care should neither be on 'pay for,' nor 'performance' based on limited measures, but rather on the patient," says the committee's paper. The committee drafted the position statement, which was approved by the ACP Board of Regents on Oct. 29, 2006, and has been submitted to a medical journal.

Paul Mueller, MD, MPH, FACP, member of the ACP Ethics, Professionalism and Human Rights Committee, discussed the importance of teaching ethics and professionalism to medical students. He presented a new ethics case study on the disruptive physician. This is the thirty-second case study developed by the Ethics committee, using hypothetical examples to elaborate on controversial or subtle aspects of issues not addressed in published guidelines or position statements. This case study includes a series of actions physicians and institutions might take to deal with disruptive physicians in light of ethics and professionalism responsibilities.

The ethics briefing concluded with William Golden, MD, FACP, Chair of the ACP Board of Regents, discussing the Physician Charter on Professionalism, which outlines three fundamental principles and 10 professional responsibilities. The charter was originally published in Annals of Internal Medicine, ACP's premier journal, and later in 30 other national and international medical and dental journals. It has been translated into 10 languages and endorsed by more than 120 medical organizations.

Dr. Golden also discussed his recent trip to China to attend a colloquium on challenges to implementing the Charter abroad and at home.

The American College of Physicians (www.acponline.org), is the largest medical specialty organization and the second-largest physician group in the United States. ACP members include 120,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internists specialize in the prevention, detection, and treatment of illness in adults. ACP publishes Annals of Internal Medicine, the most widely cited medical specialty journal in the world.

View the ACP Ethics Manual.
Read the Physician Charter on Professionalism.

Note to reporters: To receive copies of the case study on disruptive physicians or the pamphlet on volunteering for a research study, call the ACP Communications Department, 2151-351-2653.

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