Health care organizations urge protection for physicians and patients

WASHINGTON, DC —Today, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Medical Association (AMA) and Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) unite in support of physicians and hospitals who have been threatened and attacked in recent months.

“Whether it’s newborns receiving intensive care, children getting cancer treatments or families accessing compassionate care for their transgender adolescents, all patients seeking treatment deserve to get the care they need without fear for their personal safety,” said AAP President Moira Szilagyi, MD, PhD, FAAP. “We cannot stand by as threats of violence against our members and their patients proliferate with little consequence. We call on the Department of Justice to investigate these attacks and social media platforms to reduce the spread of the misinformation enabling them.”

The AAP and AMA collectively represent more than 270,000 physicians and medical students and CHA represents more than 220 children’s hospitals across the country. The groups wrote to Attorney General Garland urging “swift action to investigate and prosecute all organizations, individuals, and entities responsible.”

“Individuals in all workplaces have the right to a safe environment, out of harm’s way and free of intimidation or reprisal,” said AMA President Jack Resneck Jr., MD. “As physicians, we condemn groups that promote hate-motivated intolerance and toxic misinformation that can lead to grave real-world violence and extremism and jeopardize patients' health outcomes. The AMA will continue to work with federal, state and local law enforcement officials to develop and implement strategies that protect hard-working, law-abiding physicians and other health care workers from senseless acts of violence, abuse and intimidation.”

In addition to the letter to the Department of Justice, the groups call on Twitter, TikTok and Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, to do more to prevent coordinated campaigns of disinformation. The organizations ask the platforms to take bolder action when false information is shared about specific institutions and physicians. They also urge social media companies to enforce safety and hateful conduct policies to stop the endangerment of patients, families, physicians and health care staff.

“We are committed to providing safe, supportive and inclusive health care environments for each and every child and family, and the clinicians and staff who are dedicated to caring for children,” said CHA President Amy Wimpey Knight. “Threats and acts of violence are not a solution, nor a substitute, for civil dialogue about issues of a child or teen’s health and wellbeing. At CHA, we are committed to working across sectors to prevent misleading and inflammatory comments that result in threats to those caring for patients.”

The groups wrote in their letter to Attorney General Garland, “Our organizations are dedicated to the health and well-being of all children and adolescents. We are committed to the full spectrum of patient care—from prevention to critical care. We stand with the physicians, nurses, mental health specialists, and other health care professionals who provide evidence-based health care, including gender-affirming care, to children and adolescents.”

The American Medical Association is the physicians’ powerful ally in patient care. As the only medical association that convenes 190+ state and specialty medical societies and other critical stakeholders, the AMA represents physicians with a unified voice to all key players in health care.  The AMA leverages its strength by removing the obstacles that interfere with patient care, leading the charge to prevent chronic disease and confront public health crisesand, driving the future of medicine to tackle the biggest challenges in health care.