CHICAGO, June 18 (UPI) -- The American Medical Association, has voted against "patient shadowing," or having someone sit on an physical exam, without the patient's agreement.
Patient shadowing involves drug sales representatives who pay doctors for the privilege of sitting in on the most intimate office visits between patients and physicians.
Drug companies spend up to $500 to observe patients with their doctors. Some drug companies pay the doctor directly or the amount is donated in the physician's name to a medical school or charity.
AMA members said patient shadowing is the latest attempt by pharmaceutical companies to influence physicians' prescribing habits.
"There are concerns about patient privacy," Dr. Ronald Davis, an AMA board member, told The Chicago Tribune. "What is in the best interest of the patient has to reign supreme here."
AMA leaders also said doctors shouldn't be taking money from drug companies for shadowing programs.
"That sounds very inappropriate to me," Davis said.
The issue was examined at the AMA House of Delegates meeting in Chicago.