In letters, American Medical Association urges activation of Defense Production Act “as a matter of patient safety”
CHICAGO – In letters to Vice President Pence and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the American Medical Association (AMA) urged immediate action to address ongoing shortages and access issues related to personal protective equipment (PPE) in ambulatory settings. In the letter to the vice president, the AMA asked the administration to activate the Defense Production Act as a matter of patient safety. Physicians are telling the AMA the biggest challenge to reopening their practices is the ongoing shortages of PPE, especially N95 masks and gowns.
The AMA said in its letter to Pence: “As the AMA continues to communicate with physicians during the pandemic, they tell us the biggest challenge to reopening their practices is the ongoing shortages of PPE, especially N95 masks and gowns. Previously, physicians in ambulatory settings have not needed substantial PPE. Consequently, physicians in ambulatory settings do not have existing relationships with vendors or ability to source these critical items. Furthermore, physician offices do not need the same quantity of PPE that large institutions do. As a result, even when physicians find a vendor with available supply, they end up losing to larger institutions with more bargaining power and placing more substantial orders. PPE is needed for all types of health care sites, including ambulatory settings. We need to ensure the safety of patients, physicians and their staff.”
The AMA also wrote to FEMA about the difficulty in solving the PPE problem in physician practices, citing a lack of data to determine whether the central problem is in the availability of raw materials, production backlogs, gaps in the distribution systems, or some combination of all three. The administration has not provided information on PPE access for physician offices, and no agency appears to be working to resolve this problem. The AMA urges FEMA to work with us to provide additional assistance to these non-hospital physicians in securing PPE, disinfectants, and sanitizers.