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November 30,  2001

AMA Bioterrorism Conference

Agenda Includes Expert Speakers, Resource Room and Several Resolutions From Delegates

 (SafetyAlerts) - Seizing upon its vital role in educating physicians on recognizing and responding to biological attacks, the American Medical Association is devoting an unprecedented seven hours of discussion to bioterrorism during its interim meeting Dec. 1-5 in San Francisco.

"Bioterrorism is one of the most important issues facing America's patients and physicians right now," said AMA President Richard Corlin, MD. "With our interim meeting bringing together physicians from across the country and across the medical spectrum there is no more appropriate forum to tackle this issue and forge the medical response strategies and solutions that can protect America's patients against this threat."

The bioterrorism agenda for the nation's largest physicians' group includes a videotaped speech by Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, three educational sessions and numerous resolutions from delegates on matters relating to the use of bioweapons. There also will be a resource room open throughout the meeting where physicians can access the very latest information on combating anthrax, smallpox and other biological agents.

At the heart of the bioterrorism program are the educational sessions planned for Monday and Tuesday. These include a clinical overview of biological and chemical agents of mass destruction, a session on enhancing disaster preparedness at the local level, and a discussion of the long-term medical and health issues that surface in the aftermath of a disaster, including dealing with the "worried well" and helping children cope. These sessions will be videotaped for use later in online educational materials.

"The AMA wants every physician in the country to have access to the vital information being shared during our meeting," Dr. Corlin said. "Developing an online program will ensure that all physicians have access to this important information whenever they need it."

AMA Delegates also will be asked to consider several resolutions and reports related to terrorism and medical preparedness, including:

-- Bolstering Public Health Preparedness, which calls on the AMA to request that federal and state authorities make surveillance, response and leadership capabilities of state and local public health departments the top considerations in the nation's bioterrorism efforts.
-- Board of Trustees Report on Drug and Vaccine Shortages, which notes that such shortages have increased in frequency and severity, and some of these shortages may have significant public health consequences. This report examines the various causes of recent shortages, and recommends that the AMA support the formation of a task force to identify solutions to this problem.
-- Physician Involvement in Disaster Preparedness, which instructs the AMA to urge the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organization to revise its new standard on disaster preparedness to incorporate physician involvement.

Source: PRNewswire.

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