AMA looks for support of patients in liability reform

LOS ANGELES: As part of its ongoing effort to promote medical-liability reform, the American Medical Association (AMA) has launched a grassroots PR campaign targeted at patients.

LOS ANGELES: As part of its ongoing effort to promote medical-liability reform, the American Medical Association (AMA) has launched a grassroots PR campaign targeted at patients.

The new initiative began last week with the release of "patient action kits" for physicians to place in their waiting rooms.

The posters and brochures included in the packages urge patients to contact their members of Congress to push for liability reforms, including monetary caps on medical-malpractice lawsuits.

The organization is also staging media tours and rallies in key cities, focusing on 18 states where the AMA believes the liability situation has risen to a "crisis" level. An event was

held recently in Pennsylvania, and a mid-May rally is scheduled for Chicago, where the AMA headquarters is located. The events focus on the key message that without liability reforms, patients may lose access to healthcare as doctors decline to take on new clients, or go out of business because of rising liability-insurance costs.

"This liability crisis is threatening many patients with limited access to care," said AMA president Yank Coble Jr. "The voices of physicians are loud and united for medical-liability reform, but patients also need to show that they won't accept this situation any longer."

The AMA has also created a toll-free information line, as well as two websites targeting patients and doctors. The sites allow users to register for e-mail alerts, and offer links to help patients contact congressional representatives.

The outreach effort is being handled by in-house PR staff at the AMA, working from both the Chicago headquarters and Washington, DC.

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