Understanding the Recording of American Medical Association Policy

Current American Medical Association (AMA) policy is catalogued in Policy Finder, an electronic database that is updated after each AMA House of Delegates (HOD) meeting and available online. Each policy is assigned to a topical or subject category. Those category headings are alphabetical, starting with “abortion” and running to “women”; the former topic was assigned the number 5, and “women” was assigned 525. Within a category, policies are assigned a 3 digit number, descending from 999, meaning that older policies will generally have higher numbers within a category (eg, 35.999 was initially adopted before 35.984). A policy number is not affected when it is modified, however, so a higher number may have been altered more recently than a lower number. Numbers are deleted and not reused when policies are rescinded.

AMA policy is further categorized into one of four types, indicated by a prefix:

  • “H” – for statements that one would consider positional or philosophical on an issue
  • “D” – for statements that direct some specific activity or action. There can be considerable overlap between H and D statements, with the assignment made on the basis of the core nature of the statement.
  • “G” – for statements related to AMA governance
  • “E” – for ethical opinions, which are the recommendations put forward in reports prepared by the Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs and adopted by the AMA-HOD