The Ordem dos Medicos (OM), (Portoguese Medical Association)
The Ordem dos Medicos (OM), or Portuguese Medical Association is the national organisation for all physicians. Presently, this association has 31,383 members organised in 46 specialised colleges, four competencies and two subspecialties (1999). Forty-three per cent are female (13,b36). There are 314.2 habitants per physician and 318.2 physicians per 100,000 habitants.Sixty-four per cent are specialised, but general practice is also a speciality, making up 21 per cent of the specialists and 14 per cent of all physicians. Thirty-six per cent are general interns and residents (physicians without any postgraduate qualification).On 16 December 1998, a new board of directors and delegates was elected in the three regions (north, central and south) of the OM.
There were more than 400 candidates and about 50 per cent of all Portuguese doctors were involved. There is regional autonomy, with headquarters in the three principalities (Lisboa, Porto and Coimbra). Each region has a board of 11 directors with great autonomy of action and decision. National decisions are made in the National Executive Council which is constituted by three members of each regional board as well as the President of the OM. The main principles of the OM include:
• defence of the legitimate interests of the physicians in the practice of a humanised medicine which respects the right to universal healthcare;
• the OM acts in complete independence of the state, political parties and religious beliefs, as well as any other organisation (including medical trade unions);
• the OM is based on a democratic system that controls the responsibilities and rights of all physicians, namely the election and impeachment of all its leaders and free discussion of all matters;
• the OM may participate in unions or federations of any medical associations, and must collaborate with all other health professionals in the interest of healthcare.
The essential purposes of the OM are:
• the defence of ethical, moral and professional qualifications with the aim of assuring and respecting the right of patients to qualified medicine;
• to promote medical culture and guarantee the constant improvement of the national health service;
• to collaborate with the national political health system in all aspects, namely in medical education and medical careers;
• to participate in all aspects of medical education, the practice of medicine and the organisation of the health system;
• to encourage the maintenance of the law, especially those concerned with the practice of medicine, and to take the necessary legal actions against malpractice or illegal practice of medicine;
• to register the medical doctors and to issue the medical licensed card;
• to promote professional qualification;
• to establish and authorise professional titles;
• to accredit the post-graduation formation units, survey the postgraduate and continuous medical education and certify specialisation, sub-specialisation and competence.
In order to achieve these goals, the OM must:
• inform all physicians about matters concerning healthcare;
• create and encourage ethical and professional qualification councils;
• create and encourage departments which may directly oi indirectly be of interest to physicians;
• manage its own budget;
• participate and represent Portuguese medical doctors in al international organisations and at all levels.