7 policies adopted at AMA's annual meeting

The America Medical Association House of Delegates voted Tuesday to adopt several policy proposals to improve the nation's health.

Physicians, medical students and residents representing all states and medical fields met in Chicago to vote on the policies.

Here are seven policies the AMA adopted.

1. Prevention of detergent poisoning in children. The AMA voted to ask state and federal authorities to enact a law that requires detergent product packaging to be child-resistant and less vibrant in color, in an effort to curb accidental exposure or ingestion. Between 2012 and 2013, more than 17,000 children under the age of six were exposed — the majority through ingestion — to highly-concentrated laundry detergent pods, leading to hundreds of hospitalizations and one confirmed death.

2. Prevention of hearing loss in children from noisy toys. The AMA also adopted a policy to establish noise exposure standards for children's toys. Toys that emit dangerously high levels of noise can impair children's hearing, AMA board member Jesse Ehrenfeld, MD, said. The policy states toys need to adhere to pediatric noise exposure standards and include warning labels when standards are exceeded.

3. Protection of healthcare workers from violence. Between 2011 and 2013, about 70 percent of reported workplace assaults took place in healthcare and social service settings, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. As a result, the AMA adopted a policy that increases healthcare worker safety. The policy asks the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to require healthcare employers to establish violence prevention programs. OSHA currently has guidelines to increase healthcare worker safety, but they are not enforceable or required. The new policy would make OSHA guidelines a requirement and encourage physicians to undergo training that will help them prevent and respond to workplace violence threats, report incidents and promote safe workplace culture.

4. Support for hemorrhage control training to save more trauma victims. AMA voted to adopt a policy encouraging hemorrhage control training for professional first responders and the general public. Hemorrhaging is the leading cause of preventable trauma-related death. Citing the military's implementation of hemorrhage control as a success, the AMA said training will ultimately save more trauma patients.

5. Safe sex in residential aged care facilities to protect residents. The AMA adopted a policy urging long-term care facilities to enact policies regarding intimate and sexual behavior amongst residents. The policy aims to protect residents from unsafe, unwanted and abusive situations, while preserving residents' right to have sexual relationships.

6. Reform of the nation's juvenile justice system to protect adolescent health and prevent recidivism. The AMA voted on policy to protect the long-term safety and health of adolescents in the juvenile justice system both during and after confinement. The policy hopes to prevent youth incarceration by advocating for rehabilitation or community-based alternatives when deemed more appropriate and when the adolescent is not a threat to public safety.

The adopted policy also includes Medicaid suspension for incarcerated juveniles only during their arrest and detention. This way, youth will still have health insurance post-confinement. The policy likewise supports rehabilitation school policies maintaining health and wellness rather than "zero tolerance" policies. In addition, the new policy calls to increase the upper age of juvenile court jurisdiction to 17 years of age.

7. Greater physician education on effective use of once-a-day HIV prevention. The AMA adopted new policy to improve physician education regarding pre-exposure prophylaxis/tenofovir/emtricitabine (all known as PrEP) to prevent HIV infection in high-risk patients. A CDC survey found 34 percent of physicians had never heard of PrEP. The AMA states expanding PrEP education will reduce HIV transmission.

AMA also adopted a corresponding policy stating the AMA will advocate insurers to cover PreEP-associated costs and work with government officials to see if providing free PrEP to high-risk individuals is feasible. 

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