In a new statement published on 2 April 2020, all 45 societies represented by the US Council of Medical Specialty Societies (CMSS)—over 800,000 physicians—emphatically declare their belief that all frontline healthcare professionals must have access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and be able to speak publicly about the lack of PPE without retribution while pushing for adequate supply and distribution.
This statement comes days after reports emerged in mainstream media outlets of threats made to hospital staff who have spoken publicly about the difficulties they are confronting on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Among other cases, the story emerged of a Washington state emergency room physician who is said to have been fired after giving an interview to a newspaper on claims he had made about inadequate equipment and testing on his Facebook page, according to a report carried by Bloomberg News.
Susan E Sedory, executive director of the Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR), one of the 45 CMSS societies, says: “All physicians and health care professionals on the frontlines of the COVID-19 battle must be adequately protected to ensure they stay healthy and can continue to provide the care so urgently needed. Yet, the inadequate supply and distribution of PPE is magnifying the crisis here.
“Through CMSS, we can instead magnify the voice of nearly all of America’s specialty societies to send a clear and urgent message to policymakers and ensure that all frontline physician fighters have the protection they need. We are proud to advocate for interventional radiologists so they can continue to stay safe and care for patients in their communities.”
In full, the new CMSS statement reads:
“With more than 800,000 physicians across 45 specialties, the Council of Medical Specialty Societies (CMSS) strongly urges action to ensure safer working conditions for physicians and other healthcare professionals on the frontline of direct patient care.
“CMSS and its member societies believe that adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) should be a fundamental expectation for all frontline healthcare professionals:
“CMSS and its member societies urge federal, state and local authorities to ensure an adequate supply and distribution of PPE for every frontline healthcare professional in the United States. Physicians and other healthcare professionals can and should expect their institutions to provide appropriate means to limit occupational exposure.
“Physicians and other healthcare professionals should be allowed to bring their own PPE to protect themselves, colleagues, and patients when these items are in short supply at their institutions. CMSS supports the Joint Commission statement allowing the use of private PPE, but this option does not obviate an institution’s responsibility to provide adequate PPE to all healthcare personnel.
“The United States needs a simple, uniform mechanism for all healthcare facilities to report their PPE needs and other medical supply needs to help guide optimal distribution of supplies across the country.
“Physicians and other healthcare professionals should not be at risk of having their employment terminated, or be otherwise disciplined, for speaking out, within their health care systems or publicly, on conditions and practices related to care of COVID-19 patients (including lack of PPE) that the physician and other healthcare professional has direct knowledge of and deems to be in conflict with the health and safety of patients, themselves, and others involved in providing care to patients.
“CMSS supports the American Medical Association (AMA) statement that “no employer should restrict physicians’ freedom to advocate for the best interest of their patients.” Physicians and other healthcare professionals may appropriately decide that going public (including to the news media and on social media) with their concerns is necessary to achieve needed change for the health and safety of patients and clinicians, both within the healthcare facility and more broadly.”
Full list of CMSS societies
- American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
- American Academy of Dermatology
- American Academy of Family Physicians
- American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
- American Academy of Neurology
- American Academy of Ophthalmology
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
- American Academy of Pediatrics
- American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
- American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists
- American College of Cardiology
- American College of Emergency Physicians
- American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
- American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
- American College of Physicians
- American College of Preventive Medicine
- American College of Radiology
- American College of Rheumatology
- American College of Surgeons
- American Epilepsy Society
- American Gastroenterological Association
- American Geriatrics Society
- American Medical Informatics Association
- American Psychiatric Association
- American Society of Anesthesiologists
- American Society for Clinical Pathology
- American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons
- American Society of Hematology
- American Society of Nephrology
- American Society of Plastic Surgeons
- American Society for Radiation Oncology
- American Society for Reproductive Medicine
- American Thoracic Society
- American Urological Association
- Association for Clinical Oncology
- Infectious Diseases Society of America
- North American Spine Society
- Society of Critical Care Medicine
- Society of Gynecologic Oncology
- Society of Hospital Medicine
- Society of Interventional Radiology
- Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging
- Society of Thoracic Surgeons
- Society for Vascular Surgery
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