Safeguarding Patient-Physician Relationship Is Our Mission, Writes President of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS)

TUCSON, Ariz., March 14, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The patient-physician relationship is under attack on many fronts, writes the incoming president of AAPS in the spring issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. Melinda Woofter, M.D., practices dermatology in Granville, Ohio.

”Our responsibilities to our patients include counseling them against ALL threats to their health,” Dr. Woofter writes. “We recognize tobacco use, drug addiction, and excessive alcohol consumption as such threats, yet one danger towers above them all: our own dysfunctional ‘healthcare system.’”

The loss of privacy is an enormous and growing threat. Patients often do not recognize that the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) offers no protection, she explains. Big Brother medical databases are being created by 16 states using electronic health records (EHRs) and insurance claims, she writes. “Insurance companies are disclosing personal health information to the state without patient knowledge or consent.”

Because of concern about “death panels,” a provision to pay physicians for engaging their patients in end-of-life discussions was removed from the Affordable Care Act. But now it’s here, in codes created by Medicare, Dr. Woofter explains. There are many acronyms for the program, such as Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST). Once in place, these orders become a part of the medical record, and control which life-sustaining measures, including food and water, caregivers must provide or withhold, Dr. Woofter states.

Increasing overhead costs, limits on fees, risks of actually losing money when caring for difficult patients are driving capable doctors out of independent practice. This means limited access for patients, she explains.

Safeguarding our patients includes educating them about the loss of privacy from electronic health records, the deceptive promises made by government and managed care companies, and the dangers in end-of-life counseling and the new payment “incentives,” Dr. Woofter concludes.

The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons is published by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), a national organization representing physicians in all specialties since 1943.

Melinda Woofter, M.D., mwoofter_mdc@windstream.net; or Jane M. Orient, M.D., (520) 323-3110, janeorientmd@gmail.com

Source:Association of American Physicians and Surgeons