Editor’s note: Media around the world, including social media, frequently report on American College of Surgeons (ACS) activities. Following are brief excerpts from news stories published from September through December 2013 that mention key ACS programs and initiatives, including research findings that appear in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, and research highlights from the 2013 Clinical Congress. To access the news items in their entirety, visit the online ACS Newsroom.
Congress Poised To Permanently Fix Its Medicare Payment Glitch
National Public Radio, December 19
“Still, it’s not yet a done deal. For one thing, while physician groups are united in their opposition to the current payment system, they don’t all agree on the details of the bills that are emerging. The bill approved by the Senate Finance Committee, for example, has drawn the opposition of the American College of Surgeons.
“One big problem is that the bill would freeze physician pay at its current level for the next decade. ‘To really…send the message to physicians that things are going to be frozen for 10 years doesn’t seem like an appropriate policy issue,’ says David Hoyt, the group’s executive director.”
The Laboratory Of War: How Military Trauma Care Advances Are Benefiting Soldiers And Civilians
Health Affairs, December 18
“This morning, in Bethesda, MD, the Executive Director of the American College of Surgeons, Dr. David Hoyt, presented the leadership of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center with a plaque recognizing its designation as an ACS-certified Level II Trauma Center. Walter Reed Bethesda is part of extraordinary chain of military health system facilities, providers, organizations, and techniques that have dramatically improved an injured service member’s odds of survival and recovery.”
Bariatric surgery isn’t “one size fits all”
CNN, December 10
“[Alan Craig] Wittgrove [MD, FACS]’s ground-breaking operation changed all that. More than 90% of bariatric procedures are now minimally invasive, and in-hospital mortality rates have dropped to 0.10%, according to a 2011 study published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons. [Jaime] Ponce [MD, FACS, president of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery] says laparoscopic bariatric surgery is now as safe as or safer than gallbladder removal, one of the most routine surgical procedures in America.”
Two Medicare Incentive Programs Get a Little Tougher
Medscape, December 4
“Organized medicine objected to this heavier reporting requirement after CMS [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid] proposed it in July. In a letter to the agency, James Madara, MD, the executive vice president and chief executive officer of the American Medical Association (AMA), called the increase from 3 to 9 quality measures ‘an unreasonable leap’ and suggested setting the new bar at 5 measures. The American College of Surgeons and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) also questioned the new standard, with the AAFP arguing it would impose more of a burden on primary care physicians than specialists, many of whom will be allowed to report fewer than 9 quality measures because not as many of the measures apply to them.”
BMI isn’t the main factor in choosing the right weight loss operation
United Press International, November 22
“The study found that patients who exhibited higher levels of uncontrolled eating were more likely to have type 2 diabetes, poorer quality of life, a higher weight loss goal, and greater tolerance for assuming risk and chose to go in for a gastric bypass. While those who chose laparoscopic banding had lower body mass index, patients had similar risk preferences and eating behavior as those who had a gastric bypass.…The study is published in the December issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.”
Just Say No: 10 Common Medical Tests That May Do More Harm Than Good
Forbes, November 14
“So far this fall, more than 15 medical academies, societies, and colleges, including the American College of Surgeons, the American Academy of Dermatology, and the American Academy of Family Physicians, have released new lists of procedures to be avoided. More than 35 medical groups have now made more than 250 recommendations as part of the campaign, which launched in April 2012.”
How Hospitals Can Make Quality Stick
U.S. News & World Report, November 6
“The best way to improve a hospital’s surgical quality—and sustain that improvement—is through access to timely clinical data, panelists said at a Tuesday afternoon session of the Hospital of Tomorrow, a U.S. News & World Report conference.
The session, called ‘Making Quality Stick,’ highlighted the value of data gathered by the American College of Surgeons…National Surgical Quality Improvement Program ([ACS] NSQIP), a registry that collects clinical, risk-adjusted, 30-day outcomes data used by 500 hospitals throughout the United States.”
Tourniquets Gain New Respect
Wall Street Journal, October 22
“After the Newtown shooting, Dr. [Lenworth M.] Jacobs was among the medical experts asked by the American College of Surgeons and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to draft recommendations for the best way to respond to such events. Those recommendations, called the Hartford Consensus, included a call for wider use of tourniquets.” (Subscription required for viewing.)
Double Mastectomies May Not Increase Life Expectancy
Huffington Post, October 8
“One particular group of women who are opting to remove healthy breasts is those who have already been diagnosed with cancer in one breast. In just the last decade, the number of women who, once diagnosed with early stage cancer in one breast, have opted to not only remove the cancerous breast but also their healthy breast has more than doubled.
“Unfortunately, new research presented at 2013 Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons shows that opting to do so may only increase life expectancy by a maximum of six months, which is nearly inconsequential when noting that most women survive to live another 20 or 30 years, or more.”
Prophylactic Mastectomy Offers Minimal Gain in Breast Cancer
Medscape, October 8
“The survival benefit for contralateral prophylactic mastectomy among women who do not have a BRCA gene mutation is less than 1% at 20 years, a new computer model suggests.… These findings, which come at a time of increasing demand for the procedure by women with cancer in one breast, were presented here at the American College of Surgeons 2013 Annual Clinical Congress.”
Appendix Removal Isn’t Riskier on Weekend, Study Says
U.S. News and World Report, October 7
“Having your appendix removed on a weekend is as safe as having the surgery on a weekday, but you may end up paying more, a new study shows.
“The findings were to be presented Monday at the annual meeting of the American College of Surgeons in Washington, D.C.”
Study Examines Surgery Risks in Stented Patients
MedPage Today, October 7
“The timing of the operation relative to when the stent was implanted was a weaker predictor, and the stent type—drug-eluting versus bare-metal—was not significantly associated with adverse events at all. In addition, whether antiplatelet therapy was stopped or continued was not related to the likelihood of having a MACE after surgery, the researchers reported online in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The results were presented simultaneously at the American College of Surgeons meeting in Washington.”
5 questions to ask before surgery
CNN.com, September 25
“Dr. Karl Bilimoria, a surgeon at Northwestern University and the American College of Surgeons, advises that identifying and addressing these questions may help ensure a healthy recovery after an operation. In August, Bilimoria and researchers at the American College of Surgeons released an online tool that allows patients, in collaboration with their doctors, to estimate what their risks may be in undertaking an operation.”
Skin-Cancer Groups Push for More Checkups
Wall Street Journal, September 2
“While skin cancers such as basal and squamous cell cancers can be disfiguring, they are highly curable. Melanoma is curable if caught early and surgically removed, but can quickly thicken, spread elsewhere in the body and turn lethal. Recurrence of melanoma 10 or more years after treatment is more common than previously thought, occurring in more than 1 in 20 patients, according to a study in July in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.”