American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

The Communication Pulse: Leadership and Member Perspectives

100 Words

We all live in the “House of Surgery.” Surgical specialization has evolved over the last century. Your “family home” includes your particular specialty’s “relatives.” These relatives are your teachers, colleagues and trainees. Your annual meeting (a family reunion) allows you to meet with descendants of your family tree because they are board certified in your specialty. You often work with surgical neighbors who are from a different surgical family that lives next door or in another surgical town. You work with them on cases that require the talents of more than one family. The American College of Surgeons is the family home for all!

— Beth H. Sutton, MD, FACS, Chair, American College of Surgeons Board of Regents

— L. Scott Levin, MD, FACS, Vice-Chair, American College of Surgeons Board of Regents

Surgeon Voices

In this issue, ACS Regent Steven D. Wexner, MD, FACS, FRCSEng, FRCSEd, FRCSI(Hon), FRCSGlasg(Hon), Director, Digestive Disease Center at Cleveland Clinic Florida in Weston, FL, interviews:

Kenneth W. Sharp, MD, FACS, professor of surgery and vice-chair, department of surgery, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN, and ACS Regent, who discusses health care communication in the context of COVID-19, including the efforts of the ACS Communications Committee. Dr. Sharp has become a key contributor the College’s recent COVID communications, including on the former Bulletin: ACS COVID-19 Updates newsletter, as well as the current ACS Bulletin Brief, and he discusses some of the best and worst evidence of effective treatment against COVID-19 in the recent plethora of studies that have been conducted, his view on the risks of surgery on COVID patients, and outlook for a vaccine.

Arden M. Morris, MD, MPH, FACS, professor and vice-chair of clinical research, department of surgery, Stanford University, CA, who discusses her research in practice and policy change to improve health care. She specifically speaks on incorporating synoptic reporting into surgery, as the checklist-based documentation method could help to quickly capture more complete patient data, specifically referencing a pilot synoptic report that was rolled out for participants in the National Accreditation Program for Rectal Cancer. Dr. Morris noted that colorectal surgery programs were not capturing all relevant data chosen for the synoptic report in their standard narrative reports and that the standardized language and increased data capture offered by synoptic reporting in surgery can help to quickly identify and disseminate important findings on patient outcomes.

Peter Hopewood, MD, FACS, a general surgeon with Cape Cod Healthcare Cancer Programs, Falmouth, MA; Chair, ACS Committee on Cancer Liaison Committee; and a site reviewer for both the ACS Commission on Cancer and the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers, and Rosemary Crawford, BS, CTR, registrar, Lawrence and Memorial Hospital, New London, CT. They discuss their experiences conducting the first virtual CoC site visit, which reproduced the schedule of an in-person, single-day visit into a virtual experience that included an image-based tour of the facility, de-identified chart reviews and more.

Dr. Wexner also interviews Christian Shalgian, Director of the ACS Division of Advocacy and Health Policy, who discusses the recent release of the Medicare physician fee schedule proposed rule for 2021, which includes substantial payment cuts for Medicare surgeons in all specialties. Mr. Shalgian explains that these prospective payment cuts represent an enormous challenge, especially for surgeons in difficult financial positions due to COVID-19. The Division of Advocacy and Health Policy is currently crafting extensive comments to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services opposing the cuts and exploring Congressional action to waive budget neutrality so that an increase in payments to primary care physicians does not negatively affect surgeons. Mr. Shalgian suggests that surgeons should email, call, and contact their congresspersons to advocate for stopping these cuts—visit SurgeonsVoice to take action now.

Tiny Replicas of Human Organs to Fight COVID-19: ACS Regent Anthony Atala Leads the Way

American College of Surgeons Regent Anthony Atala, MD, FACS, director, Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and his team are using 3-D printing to create tiny replicas of human organs—some as small as a pinhead—to test drugs to fight COVID-19. This effort is described in detail in a recent New York Times article.

The team is constructing miniature lungs and colons—two organs particularly affected by the coronavirus—and sending them for testing at a biosafety lab at George Mason University, Fairfax, VA. They initially created some of the so-called organoids by hand using a pipette, but they are beginning to print these at scale for research as the pandemic continues to surge in certain areas of the U.S.

Dr. Atala’s institute had already printed these tiny clusters of cells in recent years to test drug efficacy against bacteria and other infectious diseases, such as the Zika virus, “but we never thought we’d be considering this for a pandemic,” he said in an interview with the New York Times.