AMA: Personal Responsibility for Sunbeam, Lundberg Flaps?
At its annual meeting in two weeks, the Illinois State Medical Society will hear a resolution that "would hold the American Medical Association's 20 board members personally responsible for more than $13 million lost in the aborted deal to endorse Sunbeam Inc. products." The Chicago Sun-Times reports the resolution also "demands" that both the AMA board and CEO Ratcliffe Anderson "explain the 'unauthorized' firing" of former JAMA editor Dr. George Lundberg. Resolution sponsor and society delegate Dr. Robert Kaiser said, "The members of the AMA are the AMA's shareholders, and we have the right under the Illinois Not-For-Profit Act to go after the directors personally if they violate their fiduciary responsibilities." In response to board members' claims that they were unaware of the deal and their attribution of the deal to "overzealousness by the AMA business staff," Kaiser said, "The board clearly acted without authority. The board blamed the staff, but they have the ultimate fiduciary responsibility. If they didn't know, they should have known." With regard to the Lundberg firing, Kaiser said that "AMA policy gave Lundberg editorial independence" and that "he should not have been fired for publishing a properly peer-reviewed article." Kaiser gave passage of his resolution "even odds," noting, "The current leadership of ISMS has been getting increasingly cozy with the AMA." If the resolution fails, Kaiser said he would introduce it to the Organized Medical Staff Section, "which can put it before the AMA's annual meeting in June." Without commenting on the resolution, Illinois State Medical Society President Dr. Richard Geline said, "Physicians of Illinois, through the Illinois State Medical Society, have always been an independent voice within the ranks of the AMA" (Wolinsky, 4/9).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.