IM-16 Ethics Forum: Challenges of the Employed Physician
As more physicians become employed, and more attention is paid to cost control in health care, physicians are faced with ethical challenges: should a physician’s care and treatment of a patient take into consideration cost controls, or should a physician do everything in his or her power to care for the patient without regard to cost?
The main presenter for this session was James E. Sabin, M.D., Clinical Professor of Population Medicine and Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Ethics Program. As Director of the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Ethics Program, Dr. Sabin is responsible for a nationally recognized, highly innovative organizational ethics program firmly based in a managed care system. He was joined by Karen Wood, M.D., of Harvard Vanguard, and Andrew Levin, M.D. , who practices in Holyoke, Mass.
Discussion centered on the conflicts inherent in practicing medicine as an employed physician and the employed physician’s role as a steward of health care resources. Dr. Sabin’s presentation included a focus on the American Medical Association’s Code of Ethics, which defines the ethical responsibilities for physicians and physician-administrators. Among the topics of conversation were how to help physicians apply, and patients accept, cost-conscious medical practice; how to achieve access and affordability for all patients; and how to recognize the need to share resources and the inevitable need for limits on care. More information on organizational ethics in health care is available from Dr. Sabin’s blog.