New Report: Politics in the Exam Room, A Growing Threat

Susan Frietsche, Senior Staff Attorney, Western Pennsylvania office of the Women's Law Project Susan Frietsche, Senior Staff Attorney, Western Pennsylvania office of the Women's Law Project

Susan Frietsche, Senior Staff Attorney, Western Pennsylvania office of the Women's Law ProjectBy Susan Frietsche, Senior Staff Attorney, Western Pennsylvania office of the Women's Law Project

Cross-posted from Women's Law Project.

The most insidious way American politicians attempt to influence the behavior of private citizens is by quietly passing laws that legislate doctor-patient communications, going so far as to force doctors to lie to patients.

It’s a growing problem.

Across the country, politicians have been passing laws and regulations that either coerce doctors to mislead their patients or alternatively, gag them from having truthful conversations about their patient’s health.

Politicians have even used legislation to coerce doctors into performing medically-unnecessary procedures — such as is the case with bills that mandate transvaginal ultrasounds before performing an abortion.

Politics in the Exam Room, a Growing Threat, a new report released today, examines state laws that intrude into exam rooms in the areas of toxic chemical exposures, women’s reproductive health, and gun violence prevention, jeopardizing the quality of medical care available to patients. Politics in the Exam Room was published by the National Partnership for Women & Families, National Physicians Alliance, Natural Resources Defense Council and the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

From the report:

This report highlights three areas where political agendas have intruded into exam rooms in harmful ways: the clinical management of toxic exposures, reproductive health, and gun safety. The impact of these laws could not be more serious: Health care providers who violate them may be subject to professional sanctions, civil liability, or even criminal penalties.

Some state-imposed restrictions take the form of “gag rules,” for example, imposing limits on providers’ ability to counsel patients about gun safety—a standard practice for pediatricians and family physicians. In another example, health care providers treating patients for toxic chemical exposure resulting from hydraulic fracturing (fracking), an oil and gas extraction technique, face gag clauses that can undermine their ability to share information about chemicals to which their patients have been exposed.

It’s a frightening prospect but right now, Pennsylvania has the opportunity to lead the country by stating unequivocally that politicians should stay out of the exam room by passing the Patient Trust Act.

Recently re-introduced by Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny), the Patient Trust Act has the support of more than 40 professional organizations.

Bad Medicine Pullout Quote“Patients trust that their doctor is telling them the truth, the whole truth, and that their health is the doctor’s primary concern. We should protect that trust,” said Frankel, who co-chairs the Women’s Health Caucus. “Patients shouldn’t worry that they are on the receiving end of a political agenda when they go to the doctor.”

Doctors aren’t dummies. They don’t go to school for all those years so they can be forced to provide medically inaccurate information, or perform gratuitous procedures in order to satisfy a politician’s desire to control the medical decisions of private citizens.

Help us keep politics out of the exam room by supporting the Patient Trust Act.

Stay tuned and mark your calendars for an upcoming twitter chat about government intrusion laws and what we can do about them on Monday, October 19 at 2pm EST.


weavingwoman | October 18, 2015
I do not trust doctors nor do I trust the government. Politicians need to stay out of medicine!
Tam Messier | October 17, 2015
To not understand big pharma run AMA is to not have watched the current show "Truth about Cancer" only available on online.....
me | October 17, 2015
A drug is needed to help physicians grow a spine
Mort | October 17, 2015
Heaven forbid the big CEO's of the offending industries should lose part of their $$$ bonuses due to cleanup costs!
Jean | October 17, 2015
Republicans can not govern, only attack women's rights. Get out of the medical field. you have no right to try to make those decisions.
Msj | October 17, 2015
Keep it up and we'll find you are not worth the insurance costs. We'll do as well without you as we would do with dishonest advice and care.
B | October 16, 2015
When one is middle class & retired, & paying out a hefty monthly premium for health insurance, the last thing one needs is for politicans to interfere in any medical decisions & big pharm to have the drugs needed to live a quality life, but those drugs are so expensive that it becomes a decision of paying the utilities & food expenses or the drugs, what a horrible end of the life we used to live.
rascal | October 16, 2015
Come on you doctors! Tell these idiots that their politics is not wanted or needed in your exam rooms and do what Zig said and tell these politicians to go to h--l.
Cinnamon | October 16, 2015
I agree... Politicians can go to hell!!
ojim | October 16, 2015
thro the bums out
Ginny | October 16, 2015
Insurance companies already prevent doctors from providing treatment they deem necessary. My doctor referred me to a specialist, and 6 months later I am still trying to find one that doesn't say they "don't take 'Obamacare' insurance". My healthcare is totally defined by politics.
Dell Quick | October 16, 2015
Outrageous anti-American to order doctors to lie.
nancynurse | October 16, 2015
You also need to take a look at the abuse of Washington's opiate law. It is being used to control patients' lives at the expense of their medical care. There is also potential abuse of Medicare in the urine drug testing part of the law. It was supposed to be for those proven to have abused drugs, not on every patient on long term pain control using opiates under a MD's supervision
Adnohr C | October 16, 2015
I am tired of politicians, the pharmaceutical companies and the insurance industry dictating my treatment to my doctors.
Bets | October 16, 2015
Zig - I agree what is wrong with the AMA that they are allowing politicians to dictate to them? When are they going to step up and tell these politicians that they are the doctors, not the politicians!
Linda | October 16, 2015
We don't need politics in medicine.
Bud | October 16, 2015
Typical Bible thumpers wanting to run everyone's life.
Antique Nurse | October 16, 2015
I too have wondered at the apparent silence Of the AMA. In my view, regulations that mandates professionals lying to their patients damages health care for everyone.
Gerry | October 16, 2015
I also want this to stop.
Linda | October 16, 2015
This is a total intrusion both of our doctors and of us, as patients!
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