AMA Interim Meeting Roundup—Doctors approve policies on gender identity, sexual assault and migrant children

Emergency room doctor with stethoscope
A new AMA policy advocates for trained clinicians in EDs to administer sexual assault exams. (Getty/gordonsaunders)

The American Medical Association took on some weighty social issues at its 2018 Interim Meeting on Tuesday, including gender identity, homelessness and sexual assault.

Here’s a brief rundown of the new policies approved by AMA’s House of Delegates.

Gender identity definitions should remain fluid

In a new policy, the AMA will oppose efforts to prevent an individual from determining their stated sex marker or gender identity, following a New York Times report that the Trump Administration was circulating a policy shift to define a person’s sex as unchangeable at birth.

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AMA Board Member William Kobler, M.D., acknowledged that “sex and gender are more complex than previously assumed” and said a narrow limit on the definition would have public health consequences.

Expand demographic data collection

In light of its policy around gender identity, AMA also advocated for more inclusive public health data collection that that is inclusive of gender minorities.

Improved data collection would hill help physicians better understand healthcare discrepancies, Board Member William McDade, Ph.D., said.

Broader availability of sexual assault specialists

Citing statistics that show as many as 90,000 sexual assault victims are treated in a hospital emergency department each year, AMA voted to enact a new policy advocating for EDs to have access to trained clinicians qualified to perform sexual assault exams.

AMA Board of Trustees member E. Scott Ferguson, M.D., said it is often difficult for ED physicians to oversee the multiple-hour exams while caring for other patients, but stressed the need for rape victims to undergo the exam within 72 hours.

AMA also called for HIV testing and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) to be offered to all sexual assault survivors within 72 hours.

Detaining migrant children

The AMA said it will continue to oppose federal policies that separate migrant children from their families, advocating for “humane treatment of all undocumented children.”

AMA also responded to reports that detained children had been given psychotropic drugs, which the new policy called a “violation of medical protocol.”

Homeless identification cards

AMA delegates approved a new policy supporting legislation that would eliminate the cost of obtaining an identification card which often serves as a barrier to medical care and coverage for homeless populations.

Doing so would have a “tremendous benefit” for homeless individuals who often suffer from mental illness and chronic substance abuse.

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