Mass. Medical Society Physicians Adopt Resolutions

BOSTON — Resolutions focusing on scope of practice, on-call coverage, prior authorization, and medical-staff governance were among several adopted by the Mass. Medical Society’s house of delegates last month at the organization’s annual meeting.

The society’s annual meeting brings together hundreds of Massachusetts physicians from across the state to examine and consider specific resolutions brought forth by members to the house of delegates, its policy-making body. The resolutions involve:

On-call principles. Delegates adopted a document addressing many of the issues surrounding on-call coverage by physicians at hospitals. Intended to apply to all physicians, the principles state, among other conditions, that physicians and hospitals should work collaboratively to develop solutions to on-call needs for emergency departments, that the MMS explore working with the Mass. Hospital Assoc. to develop systems for on-call coverage, and that the MMS advocate for malpractice reform to address increased liability associated with emergency-call coverage.

Physician membership in organized medical staffs. MMS delegates agreed to establish policy stating that existing medical staff should have the right to reorganize and redefine its own governance structure as appropriate, with all properly licensed and hospital-credentialed physicians involved in patient care being eligible for voice and vote in the governing of the medical staff.

Medical peer review. Delegates adopted amended principles for the medical professional review of physicians within health-insurance companies and within health care facilities. The amendments deal with the circumstances surrounding adverse events and the rights to challenge and appeal.

Scope of practice. The MMS adopted policy stating that it will support an entity’s attempt to increase its scope of practice only if two conditions are met: if the entity has proven a clear and distinctly identifiable public purpose and benefit, and if it has proposed legislation that addresses appropriate supervision, meaningful educational requirements, public protections, and practice standards.

Prior authorization. Delegates adopted a resolution stating that the MMS will sponsor legislation requiring insurance companies doing business in Massachusetts to reimburse physicians for reasonable office-practice expenses related to physician processing of prior authorizations for medications and procedures that require a medical decision, or review by a physician or other licensed health professional under his or her supervision or liability coverage.

State health system and liability reform. Delegates approved a resolution stating that the society should work diligently to assure that significant changes in state payment methodology are associated with significant and meaningful professional liability reforms.

Principles for hospitalists. The society endorsed the “Principles for a Sustainable and Successful Hospitalist Program” that were developed by the American Medical Assoc., the American Hospital Assoc., the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the Society of Hospital Medicine.

Strategic plan. Delegates approved a strategic plan for 2010-11 that focuses on advocacy and physician outreach, patient care advocacy, and member engagement. Among the specific items included in the plan are health-reform initiatives and professional liability reform; performance measurements that are valid, accurate, and reliable; and the implementation of new modes of education and communication for members.

The complete resolutions may be found at www.massmed.org.