American College of Physicians: Internal Medicine — Doctors for Adults ®

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College makes headway in fighting end-of-life bill

From the October 1998 ACP-ASIM Observer, copyright 1998 by the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine.

ACP-ASIM appears to be making headway in its battle against proposed legislation that would dramatically increase government oversight of the use of pain medicine for terminally ill patients.

The Lethal Drug Abuse Prevention Act seeks to punish physicians who prescribe drugs to help patients end their lives by revoking a doctor's DEA license to prescribe narcotics. At press time, however, both the House and Senate had postponed votes on the bills, in part because of opposition from the College and other medical organizations.

The College has argued that if the bill is enacted, physicians would be reluctant to prescribe pain medication out of fear of a DEA investigation. ACP-ASIM leaders have also said that any such investigation could jeopardize patient privacy if physicians or families were forced to disclose confidential information about a patient's care.

ACP-ASIM has been fighting the bills by testifying at Congressional hearings, participating in a series of press conferences and briefings with other organizations, and mobilizing its network of internists serving as Key Contacts throughout the country.

For more on the College's fight against the proposed legislation, see the "Where We Stand" section of ACP Online (www.acponline.org/home/policy.htm).

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