AMA to Physicians: Patient Welfare First, Economic Concerns Second

An increasing number of physicians are giving up their independent practices to become employed by hospitals and health systems. In light of this trend, the American Medical Association reminded physicians that patient welfare must remain their first priority, not the economic interests of their new employers, according to a New York Times report.

The AMA's policy encourages physicians to always make treatment and referral decisions based on the patient's best interest, not the economic interest of the hospital or health system. According to the report, the goal of the AMA's policy is to protect the autonomy of physicians.

The policy statement comes at a time when the pool of independent physicians is steadily shrinking. According to an American Medical News report, independent physicians made up 57 percent of the workforce in 2000. In 2012, that number dropped to 39 percent.

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