AMA Journal of Ethics®

Illuminating the art of medicine

Journal of Ethics Header

AMA Journal of Ethics®

Illuminating the art of medicine

Virtual Mentor. January 2005, Volume 7, Number 1.

Module 7

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Case 7.2: Physician Activism—Doctors Go on Strike

Option Comparison

Option C—continuing to see patients—is the preferred option because the Code urges physicians not to use strikes as bargaining tactics. Option A—choosing to provide emergency care—is acceptable because it maintains the integrity of the physician who disagrees with the tactic. On the other hand, Dr. Nelson's disagreement with his colleagues' tactics does not necessarily imply disagreement with their cause. Maintaining on-going discussions about tactics and appropriate actions, as in option D, is always acceptable. Option B—being coerced to engage in these actions—especially by senior partners—should be avoided. Opinion 9.025, "Collective Action and Patient Advocacy" emphasizes that "physician participation should be voluntary and free from undue pressure by colleagues." Physicians are not only expected to respect patients, but are to offer the same respect to other physicians and health care providers.

Preferable: Option C

Acceptable: Options A and D

Avoided: Option B

Additional discussion and information

The people and events in this case are fictional. Resemblance to real events or to names of people, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. The viewpoints expressed on this site are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the AMA.