July 1997 AAOS Report

AMA to file amicus curiae in pedicle screw suit

The American Medical Association (AMA) has agreed to submit an amicus curiae brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on behalf of the Academy, American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), North American Spine Society (NASS) and Scoliosis Research Society (SRS) in the pedicle screw multidistrict litigation. At the House of Delegates meeting of the American Medical Association, June 22-26 in Chicago, the AMA adopted a NASS-sponsored resolution that asks the AMA to "oppose the multidistrict litigation pertaining to pedicle screws because it impedes the progress of medical science and the availability of the highest quality care for patients; oppose any and all actions that interfere with the free and unfettered exchange of medical information; and, because of the damaging effect of the multidistrict litigation and its detrimental impact on the future of patient care... to enter the litigation as an amicus curiae."

In related news, the Third Circuit has agreed to hear the petitions of the medical societies (and other defendants) for an emergency stay of the proceedings and for a writ of mandamus to overturn Judge Bechtle's decision not to dismiss them from the suit. The Third Circuit will consider whether the societies' seminars at which the pedicle screw were discussed were forums for continuing medical education that should be protected under the free speech branch of the First Amendment. The medical associations' brief argues that the continuation of the pedicle screw multidistrict litigation has had and will continue to have a "substantial chilling effect on the medical associations' right to participate in the free exchange of ideas on medical and scientific topics, on the conduct of medical education in the U.S., on medical research and on medical practice in general."

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