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

Committee and Advisory Council Updates

Update from the Advocacy and Issues Committee

The Advocacy and Issues Committee helps promote resident engagement in policy issues locally and nationally. Read on for information on the RAS-ACS Symposium at Clinical Congress and updates from the ACS Division of Advocacy & Health Policy.

RAS-ACS Symposium at Clinical Congress. Please join us at the 2017 RAS-ACS Symposium at Clinical Congress in San Diego. The topic is “Reframing Surgical Leadership in 2017: Surgeon-Scientist or Surgeon-Advocate?” The session will be moderated by David Spain, MD, FACS; Amelia Cochran, MD, FACS, FCCM; and Caprice Greenberg, MD, FACS, who will help lead the discussion. 

Symposium essay contest. The two resident winners of the Symposium essay contest will be announced in early July. 

Current Issues. Below is an update shared with the committee from Justin Rosen, Congressional Lobbyist for the ACS Division of Advocacy & Health Policy.

Health Care Reform – American Health Care Act (AHCA)

  • On May 4, 2017, the House passed the AHCA (217-213)
  • Senate has decided to draft its own legislation rather than take up the House-passed bill
    • 13 member panel created to explore reform options
  • House received the CBO assessment (20 days after passage)
    • CBO estimates that 23 million fewer will have coverage by 2026
    • Would save $119 billion over 10 years
    • Overall the bill would lower premiums, but some would see premium increases, particularly older and sicker individuals
  • ACS involvement
    • Sent letters expressing concerns regarding legislation and highlighting ACS’ health reform principals
      • March 14, 2017 – Letter to Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi
      • May 22, 2017 – Letter to Senator Orrin Hatch, Chairman, Senate Finance Committee
    • ACS health reform principals
      • Quality and safety
      • Patient access to surgical care
      • Reduction of health care costs
      • Medical liability reform (MLR)


Opioid Addiction Prevention Act of 2017 (S. 892)

  • Requires providers who prescribe controlled substances (schedule II, III, or IV opioid) to adhere to the following requirements for acute pain:
    • Will not prescribe an excess of a seven day supply or exceed the limit established by current state law
    • Excludes opioids used to treat addiction
  • Acute pain is defined as pain with an abrupt onset and caused by injury
    • Excludes – chronic pain, cancer care, hospice/end of life care, or palliative care
  • Next steps: will send letter outlining ACS’ forthcoming statement on opioids

Medical Liability Reform

Good Samaritan Health Professionals Act (H.R. 1876 and S. 781)

  • Ensures that health professionals who wish to provide voluntary care in response to a federally-declared disaster are able to do so without the uncertainty of potential liability for provision of their care
  • Seven cosponsors in the House and two cosponsors in the Senate
  • ACS issued a letter of support
  • Next steps: Markup (committee process allowing amendments) in House Energy and Commerce Committee and Senate HELP Committee hearing

Health Care Safety Net Enhancement Act (H.R. 548 and S. 527)

  • Will provide Public Health Service Act liability protections for physicians providing EMTALA mandated care
  • 35 cosponsors in the House and one cosponsor in the Senate
  • Next steps: Awaiting committee hearing/markup in both the House and Senate committees of jurisdiction

The Protecting Access to Care Act (H.R. 1215)

  • Protect existing and future state laws that identify a specific amount of compensatory damages or the total amount of damages that may be awarded in a health care lawsuit regardless of whether the amount is greater or lesser than $250,000
  • Lead to a cost savings of $55 billion over the 2017-2026 period for federal health care programs such as Medicare and Medicaid
  • Reduce national deficit by almost $62 billion over the same 10-year period
  • Limit attorney fees so that damage awards go to the patients
  • Allow for the full and unlimited recovery of economic damages, including past and future medical expenses, lost wages, rehabilitation costs, etc.
  • Allow for the periodic payment of damages
  • Protect existing and future state laws that meet or exceed the protections in the federal law
  • Repeal of the Collateral Source Rule
  • Next steps: anticipating a vote on the House floor 

2017 Leadership & Advocacy Summit. Look for firsthand reports from the Summit later in this newsletter written by surgeons and residents who attended. It was an excellent Summit with rave reviews and we hope you can join us next year!

We welcome your participation in our committee! Please join us on our monthly calls at 9:00 pm (EDT) on the first Wednesday of each month. E-mail with subject line “Advocacy and Issues Committee” for information on how to call in.

Naveen SangjiNaveen F. Sangji, MD, MPH
Chair, RAS-ACS Advocacy and Issues Committee

Alisha Reiss, MD
Vice-Chair, RAS-ACS Advocacy and Issues Committee

Christopher McNicoll, MD, MPH
Secretary, RAS-ACS Advocacy and Issues Committee

Update from the Communications Committee

The Communications Committee houses a diverse set of projects that seek to enhance communication and knowledge sharing and to represent RAS-ACS across multiple social media platforms. Read on for updates on our podcast series, our August Bulletin, and more.

Podcast Frenzy. Look for a series of podcasts coming up from the Communications Committee. We are creating a SCORE review and collaborating on a leadership and advocacy podcast. Look forward to hearing fresh perspectives on these topics!

August Bulletin. The theme for this year’s August Bulletin is “The Opioid Epidemic: Crisis, Impact, and Solutions for the Surgeon,” wherein each of the four standing RAS committees will approach the issue from their area of expertise. Look for a fresh perspective on how we as surgeons can mitigate the crisis. 

RAS on Twitter. RAS is on Twitter and you can be, too. The @RASACS account is 100-percent run by members of the RAS Communications Committee. If you are an avid social media user or you want to get more exposure to the world of social media, then RAS Communications is the group for you. #SurgSocks experience not necessary, but certainly encouraged.

Congratulations! Robert A. Swendiman, MD, MPP, won this year’s RAS-ACS Communications Committee essay titled “Gravitas,” which spoke to the contest’s theme of “Be True to the Profession, Be True to Yourself.” Dr. Swendiman will receive a $500 cash prize. He is a PGY-4 general surgery resident at The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, and is currently obtaining a masters degree in clinical epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania with a focus on rural health. He is interested in pediatric surgery.

Get involved. We would love to have you join our group, just call in to our next conference call on the second Tuesday of each month.

John HardawayJohn Hardaway MD, PhD
Chair, RAS-ACS Communications Committee

Edward Shipper, MD
Vice-Chair, RAS-ACS Communications Committee

Christina Colosimo, DO
Secretary, RAS-ACS Communications Committee

Update from the Membership Committee

The Membership Committee seeks to enhance communication and knowledge sharing amongst residents, Fellows, and leaders of the ACS. This month the committee addresses medical student podcasts and opportunities for member involvement in videos.

Medical Student Podcasts. The Membership Committee, together with the Communications Committee, is developing a series of 10-15 minute podcasts aimed at educating medical students and mitigating the anxiety of entering surgery residency. The topics include entering residency, choosing a specialty, getting good letters and scoring well to become competitive for surgery, and options if they fail to match. We are looking for people who would like to take the lead on podcasts and record one at their own institution. To get involved, e-mail with subject line “Medical Student Podcasts” for more information.

RAS Video Content Subcommittee. The Membership Committee, recognizing the increasing role of video content on social media, is developing a new subcommittee to create and disseminate video content. We have gotten many great replies already, and we would love to see your ideas! If you are interested in creating content for or filming videos—whether for promotion of the RAS-ACS, updates on upcoming events and issues, or information regarding FES and other new requirements—e-mail us to get involved. Video editors to give feedback are also needed. Little to no video editing skills required! E-mail with subject line “Video Content Subcommittee” for more information.

We look forward to hearing from you and we hope to see you at the next conference call!

Heidi HonHeidi Hon, MD
Chair, RAS-ACS Membership Committee

Raphael Sun, MD
Vice-Chair, RAS-ACS Membership Committee

Yewande Alimi, MD
Secretary, RAS-ACS Membership Committee

Updates from ACS Committees and Advisory Councils

Advisory Council for Gynecology and Obstetrics 

The ACS Advisory Council for Gynecology and Obstetrics met for its Clinical Congress meeting in Washington, DC, on October 18, 2016. RAS-ACS was represented in person by our  Resident Liaison, Katie Crean-Tate. Updates within the RAS-ACS community were provided to the council. Items discussed included patient education and widespread surgical standards development, with a plan to disseminate information including anticoagulation guidelines and best management of surgical wounds. Significant focus was directed at increasing membership amongst obstetrics and gynecology members, particularly resident physicians, including increased outreach within obstetrics and gynecology associations such as Council on Resident Education for Obstetrics and Gynecology and American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology as well as fellowship-specific associations like the Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO).” As discussed at this annual meeting, RAS-ACS was represented at the SGO fellowship director meeting to promote awareness for gynecologic oncologists. Future directions include continued outreach through social media, with the continued goal for all Advisory Council members to perform outreach at both the local and national level.

Katie Crean-Tate
RAS ACS Advisory Council for Gynecology and Obstetrics Liaison

Advisory Council for Ophthalmology

We have discussed several issues regarding ophthalmic surgery. In particular, we nominated someone to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) Leadership Development Program. This program has helped identify and develop future leaders of state, subspecialty, and specialized interest societies. During the one-year program, class participants learn about leadership, advocacy, and association governance. Each class meets in person four times, twice in conjunction with the Academy annual meeting. Participants have included the Academy’s Board of Trustees or Committee of Secretaries, including Academy past presidents.

We also hope to help define our subsection as the surgeons viewed in legislatures around the nation. There have been scope battles with non-physicians performing surgery and we hope to focus our efforts so patients can get the best care possible.

Proposed action items: To have a presence of the ACS at the well-attended ophthalmology meetings, such as the AAO, among others, to encourage participation and membership and develop leadership bridges between the ACS and AAO.

Joseph T. Nezgoda, MD, MBA
RAS ACS Advisory Council for Ophthalmology

Advisory Council for Urology 

I attended my first ACS Advisory Council for Urology board meeting as part of the 2017American Urological Association Annual Meeting in Boston, MA. During our meeting, we reviewed the Council’s agenda, which included nominations for ACS awards, nominations for trustees to the American Board of Urology (ABU), and a review of urology-specific programming for the upcoming ACS Clinical Congress in October 2017. I gave an update on my participation in the Membership Committee, including our recruitment challenge, our recent contribution about the opioid epidemic in the August Bulletin, and my ideas about how to recruit urologists to RAS and, ultimately, to become Fellows of the College, since only about 30 percent of current board-certified urologists are Fellows of the College. I have identified two Urology Advisory Council participants who expressed interest in furthering these ideas at the meeting: 

  • Gerald Jordan, MD, FACS (Executive Secretary of the American Board of Urology and member of the ACS Board of Governors)
  • Stephen Nakada, MD, FACS (Current President of the Society for Academic Urologists, the organization that runs the AUA Match)

These leaders were amenable to efforts from RAS-ACS to target young urologic trainees for recruitment, and both requested that we as a committee submit formal proposals with our ideas. I will work with the Membership Committee to formalize these proposals and submit them to the ABU and Society for Academic Urology, respectively. 

Woodson Smelser
RAS-ACS Advisory Council for Urology Liaison

Advisory Council for Vascular Surgery

The majority of the meeting was spent discussing proposed sessions for Clinical Congress 2018. Other topics of discussion included the Stop the Bleed® campaign and how the vascular surgery community might become more involved in spreading the word about this. One member was nominated to become our council representative to the Quality pillar. Finally, we discussed the potential for a national vascular surgery quality improvement initiative that might lead to a center of excellence type of certification for participating centers; this is still in very early level brainstorming, but it would be an area of close cooperation between the College and the Society for Vascular Surgery (SVS).

Lily Johnston, MD, MPH
RAS-ACS Advisory Council for Vascular Surgery Liaison