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1.  “Concerns” about medical students’ adverse behaviour and attitude: an audit of practice at Nottingham, with mapping to GMC guidance 
BMC Medical Education  2014;14:196.
The development and maintenance of students’ professional behaviour and attitude is of increasing importance in medical education. Unprofessional behaviour in doctors has the potential to jeopardise patient safety, compromise working relationships, and cause disruption and distress. The General Medical Council issues guidance to medical schools and students describing the standards that should be attained.
Nottingham University medical school introduced a ‘Concerns’ form in 2009, to create a standardised, transparent and defensible means of recording and handling complaints about adverse attitudes or behaviours. This paper reports an audit of the system over the first three years.
The routinely-held database was enhanced with further detail collected from relevant student records. The data were explored in terms of the types of complaint, students who were reported, the people who reported them, and the actions taken afterwards. The data were also mapped to the current GMC guidance.
189 valid forms were generated, relating to 143 students. The form was used by a wide variety of people, including clinical and non-clinical teachers, administrators, Hall Wardens, and fellow students. The concerns ranged from infringements of regulations to serious fitness to practise issues. Most were dealt with by faculty or pastoral care staff but some required escalation to formal hearings. The complaints were mapped successfully to GMC documentation, with the highest proportions relating to the GMC categories ‘Good Clinical Care’ and ‘Working with Colleagues’.
Male and ethnic minority students appeared to be more likely to have a Concern raised, but this is a tentative conclusion that requires a larger sample. Undergraduate (as opposed to Graduate Entry) students may also be at greater risk.
A simple form, freely available, but designed to prevent frivolous or malicious use, has provided valuable data on unprofessional behaviour and the responses elicited. Some parts of the form require improvements, and these are underway to provide more efficient use, audit and review in future.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-196) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4189166  PMID: 25239087
Medical students; Unprofessional behaviour; Audit; Fitness-to-practise; GMC guidance
2.  Doctors who pilot the GMC's Tests of Competence: who volunteers and why? 
Postgraduate Medical Journal  2014;90(1070):675-679.
Doctors who are investigated by the General Medical Council for performance concerns may be required to take a Test of Competence (ToC). The tests are piloted on volunteer doctors before they are used in Fitness to Practise (FtP) investigations.
To find out who volunteers to take a pilot ToC and why.
This was a retrospective cohort study. Between February 2011 and October 2012 we asked doctors who volunteered for a test to complete a questionnaire about their reasons for volunteering and recruitment. We analysed the data using descriptive statistics and Pearson's χ2 test.
301 doctors completed the questionnaire. Doctors who took a ToC voluntarily were mostly women, of white ethnicity, of junior grades, working in general practice and who held a Primary Medical Qualification (PMQ) from the UK. This was a different population to doctors under investigation and all registered doctors in the UK. Most volunteers heard about the General Medical Council's pilot events through email from a colleague and used the experience to gain exam practice for forthcoming postgraduate exams.
The reference groups of volunteers are not representative of doctors under FtP investigation. Our findings will be used to inform future recruitment strategies with the aim to encourage better matching of groups who voluntarily pilot a ToC with those under FtP investigation.
PMCID: PMC4283686  PMID: 25316795
3.  Medical student fitness to practise committees at UK medical schools 
BMC Research Notes  2009;2:97.
The aim was to explore the structures for managing student fitness to practise hearings in medical schools in the UK. We surveyed by email the named fitness to practise leads of all full members of the UK Medical Schools Council with a medical undergraduate programme. We asked whether student fitness to practise cases were considered by a committee/panel dedicated to medicine, or by one which also considered other undergraduate health and social care students.
All 31 medical schools responded. 19 medical schools had a fitness to practise committee dealing with medical students only. Three had a committee that dealt with students of medicine and dentistry. One had a committee that dealt with students of medicine and veterinary medicine. Eight had a committee that dealt with students of medicine and two or more other programmes, such as dentistry, nursing, midwifery, physiotherapy, dietetics, social work, pharmacy, psychology, audiology, speech therapy, operating department practice, veterinary medicine and education.
All 31 UK medical schools with undergraduate programmes have a fitness to practise committee to deal with students whose behaviour has given rise to concern about their fitness to practise. The variation in governance structures for student fitness to practise committees/panels can in part be explained by variations in University structures and the extent to which Universities co-manage undergraduate medicine with other courses.
PMCID: PMC2701437  PMID: 19500404
4.  Are the General Medical Council’s Tests of Competence fair to long standing doctors? A retrospective cohort study 
BMC Medical Education  2015;15:80.
The General Medical Council’s Fitness to Practise investigations may involve a test of competence for doctors with performance concerns. Concern has been raised about the suitability of the test format for doctors who qualified before the introduction of Single Best Answer and Objective Structured Clinical Examination assessments, both of which form the test of competence. This study explored whether the examination formats used in the tests of competence are fair to long standing doctors who have undergone fitness to practise investigation.
A retrospective cohort design was used to determine an association between year of primary medical qualification and doctors’ test of competence performance. Performance of 95 general practitioners under investigation was compared with a group of 376 volunteer doctors. We analysed performance on knowledge test, OSCE overall, and three individual OSCE stations using Spearman’s correlation and regression models.
Doctors under investigation performed worse on all test outcomes compared to the comparison group. Qualification year correlated positively with performance on all outcomes except for physical examination (e.g. knowledge test r = 0.48, p < 0.001 and OSCE r = 0.37, p < 0.001). Qualification year was associated with test performance in doctors under investigation even when controlling for sex, ethnicity and qualification region. Regression analyses showed that qualification year was associated with knowledge test, OSCE and communication skills performance of doctors under investigation when other variables were controlled for. Among volunteer doctors this was not the case and their performance was more strongly related to where they qualified and their ethnic background. Furthermore, volunteer doctors who qualified before the introduction of Single Best Answer and OSCE assessments, still outperformed their peers under investigation.
Earlier graduates under fitness to practise investigation performed less well on the test of competence than their more recently qualified peers under investigation. The performance of the comparator group tended to stay consistent irrespective of year qualified. Our results suggest that the test format does not disadvantage early qualified doctors. We discuss findings in relation to the GMC’s fitness to practise procedures and suggest alternative explanations for the poorer performance of long standing doctors under investigation.
PMCID: PMC4453964  PMID: 25896823
General medical council; Fitness to practise; Tests of competence; Volunteer; Pilot; Assessment; Performance; Qualification year
5.  Developing assessments of surgical skills for the GMC Performance Procedures. 
INTRODUCTION: The objectives were to: (i) establish how 'typical' consultant surgeons perform on 'generic' (non-specialist) surgical simulations before their use in the General Medical Council's Performance Procedures (PPs); (ii) measure any differences in performance between specialties; and (iii) compare the performance of group of surgeons in the PPs with the 'typical' group. VOLUNTEERS AND METHODS: Seventy-four consultant volunteers in gastrointestinal surgery (n=21), vascular surgery (n=11), urology (n=10), orthopaedics (n=15), cardiothoracic surgery (n=10) and plastic surgery (n=7), plus 9 surgeons undertaking phase 2 of the PPs undertook 7 simple simulations in the skills laboratory. The scores of the volunteers were analysed by simulation and specialty using ANOVA. The scores of the volunteers were then compared with the scores of the surgeons in the PPs. RESULTS: There were significant differences between simulations, but most volunteers achieved scores of 75-100%. There was a significant simulation by specialty interaction indicating that the scores of some specialties differed on some simulations. The scores of the group of surgeons in the PPs were significantly lower than the reference group for most simulations. CONCLUSIONS: Simple simulations can be used to assess the basic technical skills of consultant surgeons. The simulation by specialty interaction suggests that whilst some skills may be generic, others are not. The lower scores of the surgeons in the PPs suggest that these tests possess criterion validity, i.e. they may help to determine when poor performance is due to lack of technical competence.
PMCID: PMC1963942  PMID: 16053681
6.  The Problem Surgical Colleague 
‘All doctors are problem doctors.’ R Smith1
The surgical profession, more than any other medical specialty, is constantly in the limelight. Frequently, concerns are expressed about our colleagues. The concerns may be personality clashes rather than failure in behaviour or performance.
Most concerns can be addressed locally with support from the Royal College Invited Review Mechanism of the National Clinical Assessment Service.
Unfortunately, if the concern is sufficiently serious or repetitive it may warrant referral to the General Medical Council (GMC) who alone has the right to withdraw a surgeon's medical registration. The surgeon will then be unable to work in the medical profession in this country.
The procedures the the surgeon must undergo if referred to the GMC are stressful and protracted. Even if successful the surgeon will probably be expected to undergo a period of retraining that will prove difficult to arrange.
New proposals to modify the GMC procedures will reduce the standard of proof to one of ‘balance of probabilities’.
The surgical profession should be accountable to its patients and colleagues. Will our Royal College rise to the challenge to establish itself as the bulwark of the surgical profession?
PMCID: PMC2048589  PMID: 17688714
Employee difficulties; Low performance; Extended ill health; Behaviour
7.  Interprofessional Relationships between Orthopaedic and Podiatric Surgeons in the UK 
The first comprehensive report on the interprofessional relationships between foot and ankle surgeons in the UK is presented.
A questionnaire was sent to orthopaedic surgeons with membership of the British Foot and Ankle Surgery Society (BOFAS), orthopaedic surgeons not affiliated to the specialist BOFAS and podiatrists specialising in foot surgery. The questionnaire was returned by 77 (49%) of the BOFAS orthopaedic consultant surgeons, 66 (26%) of non-foot and ankle orthopaedic consultant surgeons and 99 (73%) of the podiatric surgeons.
While most respondents have experience of surgeons working in the other specialty in close geographical proximity, the majority do not believe that this has adversely affected their referral base. The experience of podiatrists of the outcomes of orthopaedic surgery has been more positive than orthopaedic surgeons of podiatric interventions. Podiatrists are more welcoming of future orthopaedic involvement in future foot and ankle services than in reverse. However, there are a sizeable number of surgeons in both professions who would like to see closer professional liaisons. The study has identified clear divisions between the professions but has highlighted areas where there is a desire from many clinicians to work more harmoniously together, such as in education, training and research.
While major concerns exist over issues such as surgery by non-registered medical practitioners and the suitable spectrum of surgery for each profession, many surgeons, in both professions, are willing to provide training for juniors in both specialties and there is a wish to have closer working relationships and common educational and research opportunities than exists at present.
PMCID: PMC2727809  PMID: 18796189
Foot and ankle surgery; Orthopaedic surgeon; Podiatric surgeon
8.  Are physicians performing neonatal circumcisions well-trained? 
Notwithstanding the recommendations from the Canadian Pediatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics on the indications for neonatal circumcision, this procedure is still common in North America and throughout the world. Our purpose is not to argue whether this procedure should be done, but rather to examine who is doing it, their training, how it is performed and how can we prevent unsatisfactory results and complications. The objective is to identify what fields of knowledge require improvement and then design a teaching module to improve the outcomes of neonatal circumcision.
A 19-question cross-sectional survey, including a visual identification item, was submitted to 87 physicians who perform neonatal circumcisions in Southwestern Ontario, Canada. To improve our response rate, study subjects were contacted in a variety of ways, including mail and fax and telephone. Once the survey was completed, we produced a surgical technique training video on using the Gomco clamp and the Plastibell techiques. A knowledge dissemination workshop was held with survey participants to discuss contraindications and the use of anesthesia and management of complications of neonatal circumcision and to evaluate the surgical technique training video. A 6-month follow-up questionnaire was completed to determine the impact of the teaching course on participants’ daily practice.
In total, we received 54 responses (62% response rate). From these, 46 (85%) were family doctors and pediatricians, while the remaining 8 (15%) were pediatric general surgeons and urologists. The circumcisions were carried out with the Gomco clamp 35 (63%) and the Plastibell 21 (37%). No respondent admitted to learning the procedure through a structured training course. Of the non-surgeons, 19 (43%) learned to perform a circumcision from a non-surgeon colleague. A little over a third of the participants (17, 31%) were happy to perform a circumcision in a child born with a concealed penis, where circumcision is contraindicated. With respect to the early complications post-circumcision, 8 (100%) surgeons versus 29 (63%) non-surgeons felt comfortable dealing with bleeding (p = 0.046). In total, 7 (88%) surgeons versus 16 (35%) non-surgeons were comfortable dealing with urinary retention (p = 0.01). Also, 8 (100%) surgeons versus 24 (52%) non-surgeons were comfortable dealing with a wound dehiscence (p = 0.02). Moreover, 6 (75%) surgeons and 5 (10%) non-surgeons were comfortable managing meatal stenosis (p < 0.01). Five (63%) surgeons versus 15 (33%) non-surgeons were confident in dealing with a trapped penis post-circumcision (p = 0.24).
Our survey findings indicate that most physicians performing neonatal circumcisions in our community have received informal and unstructured training. This lack of formal instruction may explain the complications and unsatisfactory results witnessed in our pediatric urology practice. Many practitioners are not aware of the contraindications to neonatal circumcision and most non-surgeons perform the procedure without being able to handle common post-surgical complications. Based on our survey findings, we planned and carried out a formal training course to address these issues.
PMCID: PMC3758943  PMID: 24032062
9.  The history of women in surgery 
Canadian Journal of Surgery  2009;52(4):317-320.
The history of women in surgery in Western civilization dates to 3500 before common era (BCE) and Queen Shubad of Ur. Ancient history reveals an active role of women in surgery in Egypt, Italy and Greece as detailed in surgical texts of the time. During the middle ages, regulations forbade women from practising surgery unless they assumed their husbands’ practices upon their deaths or unless they were deemed fit by a “competent” jury. King Henry VIII proclaimed that “No carpenter, smith, weaver or women shall practise surgery.” The modern period of surgery opens with women impersonating men to practise medicine and surgery (Dr. Miranda Stewart). The first female physicians (Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell and Dr. Emily Jennings Stowe) and surgeons (Dr. Mary Edwards Walker and Dr. Jennie Smillie Robertson) in North America found it difficult to obtain residency education after completing medical school. Dr. Jessie Gray was Canada’s “First Lady of Surgery” and the first woman to graduate from the Gallie program at the University of Toronto in the 1940s. Currently, the ratio of women in surgical training is far less than that of women in medical school. The reasons that women choose surgery include appropriate role models and intellectual/technical challenge. Lack of mentorship and lifestyle issues are the strongest deterrents. Consideration of a “controllable lifestyle” by surgical administrators will help with the recruitment of women into surgery.
PMCID: PMC2724816  PMID: 19680519
10.  For public or profession?--The new GMC performance procedures. 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1992;305(6861):1085-1087.
The upheaval in the General Medical Council two decades ago came from doctors not the consumers the council was set up to protect. Since then there have been repeated calls for doctors to improve their self regulation by amending the disciplinary procedures. Private member's bills have failed and the GMC has now proposed performance procedures to deal with doctors who exhibit a "pattern of poor performance." After months of wide consultation in and outside the medical profession the GMC will decide next week whether to endorse the procedures, which unlike the conduct hearings will be inquiries by peers. Professor Margaret Stacey suggests that the procedures lack clarity, smacking of that "trust me" principle whose subtext is "but I'm not telling you what I'm up to."
PMCID: PMC1883645  PMID: 1467693
11.  Challenge of culture, conscience, and contract to general practitioners' care of their own health: qualitative study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2001;323(7315):728-731.
To explore general practitioners' perceptions of the effects of their profession and training on their attitudes to illness in themselves and colleagues.
Qualitative study using focus groups and indepth interviews.
Primary care in Northern Ireland.
27 general practitioners, including six recently appointed principals and six who also practised occupational medicine part time.
Main outcome measures
Participants' views about their own and colleagues' health.
Participants were concerned about the current level of illness within the profession. They described their need to portray a healthy image to both patients and colleagues. This hindered acknowledgement of personal illness and engaging in health screening. Embarrassment in adopting the role of a patient and concerns about confidentiality also influenced their reactions to personal illness. Doctors' attitudes can impede their access to appropriate health care for themselves, their families, and their colleagues. A sense of conscience towards patients and colleagues and the working arrangements of the practice were cited as reasons for working through illness and expecting colleagues to do likewise.
General practitioners perceive that their professional position and training adversely influence their attitudes to illness in themselves and their colleagues. Organisational changes within general practice, including revalidation, must take account of barriers experienced by general practitioners in accessing health care. Medical education and culture should strive to promote appropriate self care among doctors.
What is already known on this topicHigh levels of stress, psychological distress, and suicide have been reported among doctorsDoctors are reluctant to seek help in the normal way when they become stressed or illWhat this study addsThe perceived need to portray an unrealistically healthy image is stressful and a barrier to appropriate self careThe emotional response to personal illness can produce an oscillation between panic and denialThe working arrangements of general practitioners reinforce a culture in which their own and colleagues' distress is overlooked
PMCID: PMC56892  PMID: 11576981
12.  Medical migration and world health 
Journal of Medical Ethics  1977;3(4):179-182.
Everyone knows that British doctors are emigrating and that other doctors, mostly from the third world, are immigrating to Britain. Also everyone thinks that he knows the reasons why. However, the Edinburgh Medical Group thought the various reasons for this medical migration should be examined more closely, and held a symposium (Chairman, Professor A S Duncan, Professor Emeritus of Medical Education in the University of Edinburgh) to examine the causes for medical migration at the present time.
Medical teaching and practice is still basically as it has been developed in the West and so overseas doctors trained in Britain take with them not only the medical knowledge and skills but also the attitudes of the West when they return to their own countries. Consequently they wish to settle in the towns and practise as consultants when the real medical problems in many of the developing countries are those of a rural population needing health care rather than treatment in what have been called `disease palaces'. As speakers made clear, a new responsibility must fall on those training doctors from overseas in the British medical schools to fit them not for the dream world of the sophisticated medical scene but for the realities of working in often badly equipped clinics and dealing with common conditions such as malnutrition and other problems of maternity and child health.
The symposium also included discussions as to why British doctors wished to emigrate. Money seemed to be the most compelling motive, but opportunities were being limited for their migration for economic and political reasons.
Finally, a look at the whole of the medical scene in Britain: perhaps the standard sought in Britain both by the doctor and the patient is too high and too individualistic. Events will show if this be true.
PMCID: PMC1154599
13.  Minimally invasive surgical practice: a survey of general surgeons in Ontario 
Canadian Journal of Surgery  2004;47(1):15-19.
With the rapidly evolving techniques for minimally invasive surgery (MIS), general surgeons are challenged to incorporate advanced procedures into their practices. We therefore carried out a study to assess the state of MIS practice in Ontario.
A questionnaire was mailed to 390 general surgeons in Ontario. It addressed the surgeon's practice demographics, performance of both basic and advanced MIS procedures, the factors influencing this practice and the means of obtaining MIS training.
Of the 390 general surgeons surveyed, 309 (79%) responded. Thirty-six of these were retired and were excluded from the analysis, leaving 273 available for study. The average age in the study group was 49.7 years; 247 (90%) were men. Of 272 who responded to the question, 116 (43%) had subspecialty training. The average surgeon's operating room (OR) time was 1.5 d/wk and the average waiting time for elective procedures was 4 weeks. We found that 257 (94%) respondents performed basic laparoscopic procedures, and 164 (60%) performed appendectomy; 135 (49%) performed at least 1 advanced laparoscopic procedure in their practice, although only 30 (22%) of these performed inguinal hernia repair. Using a Likert scale, we found that the most important factors influencing the incorporation of advanced laparoscopic procedures into surgical practice were a lack of OR time (median 4), lack of OR financial resources (median 4) and lack of training opportunities (median 4). Of surgeons responding to questions, 161 (64%) of 251 felt that the present medical environment did not allow them to meet standard-of-care requirements; they felt that it was the responsibility of academic surgical departments (214 [80%] of 268), the Canadian Association of General Surgeons (177 [68%] of 262) and the Ontario Association of General Surgeons (141 [53%] of 264) to provide continuing medical education courses for MIS training.
The ability of practising general surgeons to incorporate advanced MIS procedures into their surgical practice remains a complex issue.
PMCID: PMC3211809  PMID: 14997919
14.  Do Canadian female surgeons feel discriminated against as women? 
OBJECTIVE: To describe female surgeons' perceptions of discrimination against them as women during the selection and training process and in career development and advancement, and to describe trends over time. DESIGN: Population survey of practising Canadian female surgeons. SETTING: Canada. PARTICIPANTS: All 459 female members in good standing of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada or the Corporation professionnelle des médecins du Québec, or both, practising in Canada as of March 1990. Participants completed a survey between March 1990 and May 1992, the response rate was 91% (419/459). OUTCOME MEASURES: Reported levels of discrimination during selection and training and in career development and advancement, institutional policies on maternity leave and job sharing, and the existence of female role models or mentors. RESULTS: Discrimination during the process of selection for residency was reported by 15% (63/413) of the respondents. Just over half of the respondents (206/405) reported male attending staff as being discriminatory during training, and 41% (168/407) reported nursing staff as being discriminatory. Almost half of the respondents (199/408) indicated that discrimination did not hinder their career development or advancement at all, and 29% (118) indicated that it had little effect. Almost two thirds (245/381) reported no maternity leave policies during residency or practice, and 78% (296/379) reported having no job-sharing opportunities. Although 82% (338/413) agreed that female medical students need female role models, 80% (330/415) reported they did not have a female mentor. CONCLUSIONS: Although most of our respondents perceived no discrimination in their selection for residency and reported that discrimination did not hinder their career development or advancement, the perception of discrimination during surgical training suggests that there needs to be a concentrated effort to identify and address problems. Moreover, since few respondents reported having institutional policies on maternity leave and job-sharing or female mentors, these issues need to be examined.
PMCID: PMC1488087  PMID: 8542564
15.  Guidelines, Editors, Pharma And The Biological Paradigm Shift 
Mens Sana Monographs  2007;5(1):27-30.
Private investment in biomedical research has increased over the last few decades. At most places it has been welcomed as the next best thing to technology itself. Much of the intellectual talent from academic institutions is getting absorbed in lucrative positions in industry. Applied research finds willing collaborators in venture capital funded industry, so a symbiotic growth is ensured for both.
There are significant costs involved too. As academia interacts with industry, major areas of conflict of interest especially applicable to biomedical research have arisen. They are related to disputes over patents and royalty, hostile encounters between academia and industry, as also between public and private enterprise, legal tangles, research misconduct of various types, antagonistic press and patient-advocate lobbies and a general atmosphere in which commercial interest get precedence over patient welfare.
Pharma image stinks because of a number of errors of omission and commission. A recent example is suppression of negative findings about Bayer's Trasylol (Aprotinin) and the marketing maneuvers of Eli Lilly's Xigris (rhAPC). Whenever there is a conflict between patient vulnerability and profit motives, pharma often tends to tilt towards the latter. Moreover there are documents that bring to light how companies frequently cross the line between patient welfare and profit seeking behaviour.
A voluntary moratorium over pharma spending to pamper drug prescribers is necessary. A code of conduct adopted recently by OPPI in India to limit pharma company expenses over junkets and trinkets is a welcome step.
Clinical practice guidelines (CPG) are considered important as they guide the diagnostic/therapeutic regimen of a large number of medical professionals and hospitals and provide recommendations on drugs, their dosages and criteria for selection. Along with clinical trials, they are another area of growing influence by the pharmaceutical industry. For example, in a relatively recent survey of 2002, it was found that about 60% of 192 authors of clinical practice guidelines reported they had financial connections with the companies whose drugs were under consideration. There is a strong case for making CPGs based not just on effectivity but cost effectivity. The various ramifications of this need to be spelt out. Work of bodies like the Appraisal of Guidelines Research and Evaluation (AGREE) Collaboration and Guidelines Advisory Committee (GAC) are also worth a close look.
Even the actions of Foundations that work for disease amelioration have come under scrutiny. The process of setting up ‘Best Practices’ Guidelines for interactions between the pharmaceutical industry and clinicians has already begun and can have important consequences for patient care. Similarly, Good Publication Practice (GPP) for pharmaceutical companies have also been set up aimed at improving the behaviour of drug companies while reporting drug trials
The rapidly increasing trend toward influence and control by industry has become a concern for many. It is of such importance that the Association of American Medical Colleges has issued two relatively new documents - one, in 2001, on how to deal with individual conflicts of interest; and the other, in 2002, on how to deal with institutional conflicts of interest in the conduct of clinical research. Academic Medical Centers (AMCs), as also medical education and research institutions at other places, have to adopt means that minimize their conflicts of interest.
Both medical associations and research journal editors are getting concerned with individual and institutional conflicts of interest in the conduct of clinical research and documents are now available which address these issues. The 2001 ICMJE revision calls for full disclosure of the sponsor's role in research, as well as assurance that the investigators are independent of the sponsor, are fully accountable for the design and conduct of the trial, have independent access to all trial data and control all editorial and publication decisions. However the findings of a 2002 study suggest that academic institutions routinely participate in clinical research that does not adhere to ICMJE standards of accountability, access to data and control of publication.
There is an inevitable slant to produce not necessarily useful but marketable products which ensure the profitability of industry and research grants outflow to academia. Industry supports new, not traditional, therapies, irrespective of what is effective. Whatever traditional therapy is supported is most probably because the company concerned has a product with a big stake there, which has remained a ‘gold standard’ or which that player thinks has still some ‘juice’ left.
Industry sponsorship is mainly for potential medications, not for trying to determine whether there may be non-pharmacological interventions that may be equally good, if not better. In the paradigm shift towards biological psychiatry, the role of industry sponsorship is not overt but probably more pervasive than many have realised, or the right thinking may consider good, for the health of the branch in the long run.
An issue of major concern is protection of the interests of research subjects. Patients agree to become research subjects not only for personal medical benefit but, as an extension, to benefit the rest of the patient population and also advance medical research.
We all accept that industry profits have to be made, and investment in research and development by the pharma industry is massive. However, we must also accept there is a fundamental difference between marketing strategies for other entities and those for drugs.
The ultimate barometer is patient welfare and no drug that compromises it can stand the test of time. So, how does it make even commercial sense in the long term to market substandard products? The greatest mistake long-term players in industry may make is try to adopt the shady techniques of the upstart new entrant. Secrecy of marketing/sales tactics, of the process of manufacture, of other strategies and plans of business expansion, of strategies to tackle competition are fine business tactics. But it is critical that secrecy as a tactic not extend to reporting of research findings, especially those contrary to one's product.
Pharma has no option but to make a quality product, do comprehensive adverse reaction profiles, and market it only if it passes both tests.
Why does pharma adopt questionable tactics? The reasons are essentially two:
What with all the constraints, a drug comes to the pharmacy after huge investments. There are crippling overheads and infrastructure costs to be recovered. And there are massive profit margins to be maintained. If these were to be dependent only on genuine drug discoveries, that would be taking too great a risk.Industry players have to strike the right balance between profit making and credibility. In profit making, the marketing champions play their role. In credibility ratings, researchers and paid spokes-persons play their role. All is hunky dory till marketing is based on credibility. When there is nothing available to make for credibility, something is projected as one and marketing carried out, in the calculated hope that profits can accrue, since profit making must continue endlessly. That is what makes pharma adopt even questionable means to make profits.
Essentially, there are four types of drugs. First, drugs that work and have minimal side-effects; second, drugs which work but have serious side-effects; third, drugs that do not work and have minimal side-effects; and fourth, drugs which work minimally but have serious side-effects. It is the second and fourth types that create major hassles for industry. Often, industry may try to project the fourth type as the second to escape censure.
The major cat and mouse game being played by conscientious researchers is in exposing the third and fourth for what they are and not allowing industry to palm them off as the first and second type respectively. The other major game is in preventing the second type from being projected as the first. The third type are essentially harmless, so they attract censure all right and some merriment at the antics to market them. But they escape anything more than a light rap on the knuckles, except when they are projected as the first type.
What is necessary for industry captains and long-term players is to realise:
Their major propelling force can only be producing the first type. 2. They accept the second type only till they can lay their hands on the first. 3. The third type can be occasionally played around with to shore up profits, but never by projecting them as the first type. 4. The fourth type are the laggards, real threat to credibility and therefore do not deserve any market hype or promotion.
In finding out why most pharma indulges in questionable tactics, we are lead to some interesting solutions to prevent such tactics with the least amount of hassles for all concerned, even as both profits and credibility are kept intact.
PMCID: PMC3192391  PMID: 22058616
Academia; Pharmaceutical Industry; Clinical Practice Guidelines; Best Practice Guidelines; Academic Medical Centers; Medical Associations; Research Journals; Clinical Research; Public Welfare; Pharma Image; Corporate Welfare; Biological Psychiatry; Law Suits Against Industry
16.  Recurrent Dislocation of the Shoulder Joint 
Dr. Anthony F. DePalma is shown. Photograph provided with kind permission of the Art Committee of Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA.
Dr. DePalma was the first editor of Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, established by the recently formed Association of Bone and Joint Surgeons. The idea of forming the Association of Bone and Joint surgeons had been conceived by Dr. Earl McBride of Oklahoma City in 1947, and organized by a group of twelve individuals (Drs. Earl McBride, Garrett Pipkin, Duncan McKeever, Judson Wilson, Fritz Teal, Louis Breck, Henry Louis Green, Howard Shorbe, Theodore Vinke, Paul Williams, Eugene Secord, and Frank Hand) [9]. The first organizational meeting was held in conjunction with the 1949 Annual Meeting of the AAOS [9] and the first annual meeting held April 1–2, 1949 in Oklahoma City. Drs. McBride and McKeever invited Dr. DePalma to attend that meeting and join the society. According to DePalma, “Even at this small gathering, there were whisperings of the need of another journal to provide an outlet for the many worthy papers written on clinical and basic science subjects” [7]. The decision to form a new journal was finalized in 1951, and Drs. DePalma and McBride signed a contract with J.B. Lippincott Company. Dr. DePalma was designated Editor-in-Chief, and the journal became a reality in 1953 with the publication of the first volume. From the outset he established the “symposium” as a unique feature, in which part of the articles were devoted to a particular topic. Dr. DePalma served as Editor for 13 years until 1966, when he resigned the position and recommended the appointment of Dr. Marshall R. Urist. At his retirement, Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research was well established as a major journal.
Dr. Anthony F. DePalma was born in Philadelphia in 1904, the son of immigrants from Alberona in central Foggia, Italy [1]. He attended the University of Maryland for his premedical education, then Jefferson Medical College, from which he graduated in 1929. He then served a two-year internship (common at the time) at Philadelphia General Hospital. Jobs were scarce owing to the Depression, and he felt fortunate to obtain in 1931 a position as assistant surgeon at the Coaldale State Hospital, in Coaldale, Pennsylvania, a mining town. However, he became attracted to orthopaedics and looked for a preceptorship (postgraduate training in specialties was not well developed at this time before the establishments of Boards). In the fall of 1932, he was appointed as a preceptor at the New Jersey Orthopaedic Hospital, an extension of the New York Orthopaedic Hospital. In 1939 he acquired Board certification (the first board examination was offered in 1935 for a fee of $25.00 [2]) and was appointed to the NJOH staff [1].
Dr. DePalma volunteered for military service in 1942, and served first at the Parris Island Naval Hospital in South Carolina, then on the Rixey, a hospital ship. In addition to serving to evacuate casualties to New Zealand, his ship was involved in several of the Pacific island assaults (Guam, Leyte, Okinawa). In 1945, he was assigned to the Naval Hospital in Philadelphia [1].
On his return to Philadelphia, he contacted staff members at Jefferson Medical College, including the Chair, Dr. James Martin, and became good friends with Dr. Bruce Gill (a professor of Orthopaedics at the University of Pennsylvania, and one of the earliest Presidents of the AAOS). After he was discharged from the service, he joined the staff of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Jefferson, where he remained the rest of his career. He succeeded Dr. Martin as Chair in 1950, a position he held until 1970 when he reached the mandatory retirement age of 65. He closed his practice and moved briefly to Pompano Beach, Florida, but the lure of academia proved too powerful, and in January, 1971, he accepted the offer to develop a Division of Orthopaedics at the New Jersey College of Medicine and became their Chair. He committed to a five-year period, and then again moved to Pompano Beach, only to take the Florida State Boards and open a private practice in 1977. His practice grew, and he continued that practice until 1983 at the age of nearly 79. Even then he continued to travel and lecture [1].
We reproduce here four of his many contributions on the shoulder. The first comes from his classic monograph, “Surgery of the Shoulder,” published by J. B. Lippincott in 1950 [2]. In this article he describes the evolutionary development of the shoulder, focusing on the distinction between various primates, and relates the anatomic changes to upright posture and prehensile requirements. The remaining three are journal articles related to frozen shoulder [1], recurrent dislocation [3], and surgical anatomy of the rotator cuff [6], three of the most common shoulder problems then and now. He documented the histologic inflammation and degeneration in various tissues including the coracohumeral ligaments, supraspinatus tendon, bursal wall, subscapularis musculotendinous junction, and biceps tendon. Thus, the problem was rather more global than localized. He emphasized, “Manipulation of frozen shoulders is a dangerous and futile procedure.” For recurrent dislocation he advocated the Magnuson procedure (transfer of the subscapularis tendon to the greater tuberosity) to create a musculotendinous sling. All but two of 23 patients he treated with this approach were satisfied with this relatively simple procedure. (Readers will note the absence of contemporary approaches to ascertain outcomes and satisfaction. The earliest outcome musculoskeletal measures were introduced in the 60s by Larson [11] and then by Harris [10], but these instruments were physician-generated and do not reflect the rather more rigorously validated patient-generated outcome measures we use today. Nonetheless, the approach used by Dr. DePalma reflected the best existing standards of reporting results.) Dr. DePalma’s classic article, “Surgical Anatomy of the Rotator Cuff and the Natural History of Degenerative Periarthritis,” [6] reflected his literature review and dissections of 96 shoulders from 50 individuals “unaware of any (shoulder) disability” and mostly over the age of 40. By the fifth decade, most specimens began to show signs of rotator cuff tearing and he found complete tears in nine specimens from “the late decades.” He concluded,
“Based on the…observations, one can reasonably construct the natural history of periarthritis of the shoulder. It is apparent that aging is an important etiological factor, and with aging certain changes take place in the connective tissue elements of the musculotendinous cuff…it is also apparent that in slowly developing lesions of this nature compensating adjustments in the mechanics of the joint take place so that severe alterations in the mechanics of the joint do not appear. However, one must admit that such a joint is very vulnerable and, if subjected to minor trauma, the existing degenerative lesion would be extended and aggravated.”
Thus, he clearly defined the benign effects of rotator cuff tear in many aging individuals, but also the potential to create substantial pain and disability.
Dr. DePalma was a prolific researcher and writer. In addition to his “Surgery of the Shoulder,” he wrote three other books, “Diseases of the Knee: Management in Medicine and Surgery” (published by J.B. Lippincott in 1954) [4], “The Management of Fractures and Dislocations” (a large and comprehensive two volume work published by W.B. Saunders in 1959, and going through 5 reprintings) [5], and “The Intervertebral Disc” (published by W.B. Saunders in 1970, and written with his colleague, Dr. Richard Rothman) [8]. PubMed lists 62 articles he published from 1948 until 1992.
We wish to pay tribute to Dr. DePalma for his vision in establishing Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research as a unique journal and for his many contributions to orthopaedic surgery.
DePalma A. Loss of scapulohumeral motion (frozen shoulder). Ann Surg. 1952;135:193–204.DePalma AF. Origin and comparative anatomy of the pectoral limb. In: DePalma AF, ed. Surgery of the Shoulder. Philadelphia: JB Lippincott; 1950:1–14.DePalma AF. Recurrent dislocation of the shoulder joint. Ann Surg. 1950;132:1052–1065.DePalma AF. Diseases of the Knee: Management in Medicine and Surgery. Philadelphia, PA: JB Lippincott Company; 1954.DePalma AF. The Management of Fractures and Dislocations—An Atlas. Philadelphia: WB Saunders Company; 1959.DePalma AF. Surgical anatomy of the rotator cuff and the natural history of degenerative periarthritis. Surg Clin North Am. 1963;43:1507–1520.DePalma AF. A lifetime of devotion to the Janus of orthopedics. Bridging the gap between the clinic and laboratory. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 1991;265:146–169.DePalma AF, Rothman RH. The Intervertebral Disc. Philadelphia: WB Saunders Company; 1970.Derkash RS. History of the Association of Bone and Joint Surgeons. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 1997;337:306–309.Harris WH. Traumatic arthritis of the hip after dislocation and acetabular fractures: treatment by mold arthroplasty. An end-result study using a new method of result evaluation. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1969;51:737–755.Larson CB. Rating scale for hip disabilities. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 1963;31:85–93.
PMCID: PMC2505210  PMID: 18264840
17.  The Registration of Medical Graduates from Eastern European Union Countries with the General Medical Council (GMC) and the Medical Council, Ireland. 
The Ulster Medical Journal  2013;82(2):71-74.
The purpose of this study was to identify the number of medical graduates registered with the General Medical Council (GMC) between 1990 and 2005, whose initial training was in Eastern Europe and who came from universities which have subsequently developed an “English Parallel” course and are now within the European Union (EU). A similar exercise was undertaken with graduates registered with the Medical Council, Ireland.
Between 1990 and 2005 one thousand six hundred and fourteen (1614) doctors, who had trained in the selected universities from Eastern Europe, registered with the General Medical Council (GMC) in the United Kingdom (Table 1). The Register of Medical Practitioners for Ireland as at 1st July 2005 was also scanned manually to identify graduates from these countries who were registered in Ireland. Sixty four such graduates were identified of whom 6 qualified before 1990 and 5 were in their internship year. The study suggests that since 2000 younger graduates who sought training in Central and Eastern Europe are returning to the UK shortly after graduation to register and start clinical training.
PMCID: PMC3756861  PMID: 24082282
18.  Attitudes towards chiropractic: an analysis of written comments from a survey of north american orthopaedic surgeons 
There is increasing interest by chiropractors in North America regarding integration into mainstream healthcare; however, there is limited information about attitudes towards the profession among conventional healthcare providers, including orthopaedic surgeons.
We administered a 43-item cross-sectional survey to 1000 Canadian and American orthopaedic surgeons that inquired about demographic variables and their attitudes towards chiropractic. Our survey included an option for respondants to include written comments, and our present analysis is restricted to these comments. Two reviewers, independantly and in duplicate, coded all written comments using thematic analysis.
487 surgeons completed the survey (response rate 49%), and 174 provided written comments. Our analysis revealed 8 themes and 24 sub-themes represented in surgeons' comments. Reported themes were: variability amongst chiropractors (n = 55); concerns with chiropractic treatment (n = 54); areas where chiropractic is perceived as effective (n = 43); unethical behavior (n = 43); patient interaction (n = 36); the scientific basis of chiropractic (n = 26); personal experiences with chiropractic (n = 21); and chiropractic training (n = 18). Common sub-themes endorsed by surgeon's were diversity within the chiropractic profession as a barrier to increased interprofessional collaboration, endorsement for chiropractic treatment of musculoskeletal complaints, criticism for treatment of non-musculoskeletal complaints, and concern over whether chiropractic care was evidence-based.
Our analysis identified a number of issues that will have to be considered by the chiropractic profession as part of its efforts to further integrate chiropractic into mainstream healthcare.
PMCID: PMC3212887  PMID: 21970333
orthopaedics; chiropractic; attitude of health personnel; survey
19.  Place of medical qualification and outcomes of UK General Medical Council “fitness to practise” process: cohort study 
Objectives To evaluate whether country of medical qualification is associated with “higher impact” decisions at different stages of the UK General Medical Council’s (GMC’s) “fitness to practise” process after allowing for other characteristics of doctors and inquiries.
Design Retrospective cohort study.
Setting Medical practice in the United Kingdom.
Participants 7526 inquiries to the GMC concerning 6954 doctors.
Main outcome measures Proportion of inquiries referred for further investigation at initial triage by the GMC, proportion of inquiries investigated that were subsequently referred for adjudication, and proportion of inquiries resulting in doctors being erased or suspended from the medical register; relative odds of higher impact decisions, by country of qualification, adjusted for doctors’ sex, years since primary medical qualification, medical specialty, source and type of inquiry, and nature of allegations.
Results Of 7526 inquiries, 4702 concerned doctors who qualified in the UK, 624 concerned doctors who qualified elsewhere in the European Union (EU), and 2190 concerned doctors who qualified outside the EU. At the initial triage, 30% (n=1398) of inquiries concerning doctors who qualified in the UK had a high impact decision, compared with 43% (267) for doctors who qualified elsewhere in the EU and 46% (998) for those who qualified outside the EU. The adjusted relative odds of an inquiry being referred for further investigation were 1.67 (95% confidence interval 1.28 to 2.17) for doctors who qualified elsewhere in the EU and 1.61 (1.38 to 1.88) for those who qualified outside the EU, compared with doctors who qualified in the UK. At the investigation stage, 5% (228) of inquiries received concerning UK qualified doctors were referred for adjudication, compared with 10% for EU (63) or non-EU (221) qualified doctors. The adjusted relative odds of referral for adjudication were 2.14 (1.46 to 3.16) for doctors who qualified elsewhere in the EU and 1.68 (1.31 to 2.16) for those who qualified outside the EU. At the adjudication stage, 1% (69) of inquiries received concerning UK qualified doctors led to erasure or suspension, compared with 4% (24) for doctors who qualified elsewhere in the EU and 3% (71) for non-EU qualified doctors. The adjusted relative odds of erasure or suspension were 2.16 (1.22 to 3.80) for doctors who qualified elsewhere in the EU and 1.48 (1.00 to 2.19) for those who qualified outside the EU.
Conclusions Inquiries to the GMC concerning doctors qualified outside the UK are more likely to be associated with higher impact decisions at each stage of the fitness to practice process. These associations were not explained by measured inquiry related and doctor related characteristics, but residual confounding cannot be excluded.
PMCID: PMC3071377  PMID: 21467101
20.  GP recruitment and retention: a qualitative analysis of doctors' comments about training for and working in general practice. 
BACKGROUND AND AIMS: General practice in the UK is experiencing difficulty with medical staff recruitment and retention, with reduced numbers choosing careers in general practice or entering principalships, and increases in less-than-full-time working, career breaks, early retirement and locum employment. Information is scarce about the reasons for these changes and factors that could increase recruitment and retention. The UK Medical Careers Research Group (UKMCRG) regularly surveys cohorts of UK medical graduates to determine their career choices and progression. We also invite written comments from respondents about their careers and the factors that influence them. Most respondents report high levels of job satisfaction. A noteworthy minority, however, make critical comments about general practice. Although their views may not represent those of all general practitioners (GPs), they nonetheless indicate a range of concerns that deserve to be understood. This paper reports on respondents' comments about general practice. ANALYSIS OF DOCTORS' COMMENTS: Training Greater exposure to general practice at undergraduate level could help to promote general practice careers and better inform career decisions. Postgraduate general practice training in hospital-based posts was seen as poor quality, irrelevant and run as if it were of secondary importance to service commitments. In contrast, general practice-based postgraduate training was widely praised for good formal teaching that met educational needs. The quality of vocational training was dependent upon the skills and enthusiasm of individual trainers. Recruitment problems Perceived deterrents to choosing general practice were its portrayal, by some hospital-based teachers, as a second class career compared to hospital medicine, and a perception of low morale amongst current GPs. The choice of a career in general practice was commonly made for lifestyle reasons rather than professional aspirations. Some GPs had encountered difficulties in obtaining posts in general practice suited to their needs, while others perceived discrimination. Newly qualified GPs often sought work as non-principals because they felt too inexperienced for partnership or because their domestic situation prevented them from settling in a particular area. Changes to general practice The 1990 National Health Service (NHS) reforms were largely viewed unfavourably, partly because they had led to a substantial increase in GPs' workloads that was compounded by growing public expectations, and partly because the two-tier system of fund-holding was considered unfair. Fund-holding and, more recently, GP commissioning threatened the GP's role as patient advocate by shifting the responsibility for rationing of health care from government to GPs. Some concerns were also expressed about the introduction of primary care groups (PCGs) and trusts (PCTs). Together, increased workload and the continual process of change had, for some, resulted in work-related stress, low morale, reduced job satisfaction and quality of life. These problems had been partially alleviated by the formation of GP co-operatives. Retention difficulties Loss of GPs' time from the NHS workforce occurs in four ways: reduced working hours, temporary career breaks, leaving the NHS to work elsewhere and early retirement. Child rearing and a desire to pursue interests outside medicine were cited as reasons for seeking shorter working hours or career breaks. A desire to reduce pressure of work was a common reason for seeking shorter working hours, taking career breaks, early retirement or leaving NHS general practice. Other reasons for leaving NHS general practice, temporarily or permanently, were difficulty in finding a GP post suited to individual needs and a desire to work abroad. CONCLUSIONS: A cultural change amongst medical educationalists is needed to promote general practice as a career choice that is equally attractive as hospital practice. The introduction of Pre-Registration House Officer (PRHO) placements in general practice and improved flexibility of GP vocational training schemes, together with plans to improve the quality of Senior House Officer (SHO) training in the future, are welcome developments and should address some of the concerns about poor quality GP training raised by our respondents. The reluctance of newly qualified GPs to enter principalships, and the increasing demand from experienced GPs for less-than-full-time work, indicates a need for a greater variety of contractual arrangements to reflect doctors' desires for more flexible patterns of working in general practice.
PMCID: PMC2560447  PMID: 12049026
21.  Surgical “Buy-in”: the Contractual Relationship between Surgeons and Patients that Influences Decisions Regarding Life-Supporting Therapy 
Critical care medicine  2010;38(3):843-848.
There is a general consensus by intensivists and non-surgical providers that surgeons hesitate to withdraw life-sustaining therapy on their operative patients despite a patient’s or surrogate’s request to do so.
To examine the culture and practice of surgeons in order to assess attitudes and concerns regarding advance directives for their patients who have high-risk surgical procedures.
A qualitative investigation using one-on-one, in-person interviews with open-ended questions about the use of advance directives during peri-operative planning. Consensus coding was performed using a grounded theory approach. Data accrual continued until theoretical saturation was achieved. Modeling identified themes and trends, ensuring maximal fit and faithful data representation.
Surgical practices in Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Physicians involved in the performance of high risk surgical procedures.
Main Results
We describe here the concept of surgical “buy-in”: a complex process by which surgeons negotiate with patients a commitment to post-operative care prior to undertaking high-risk surgical procedures. Surgeons describe seeking a commitment from the patient to abide prescribed postoperative care: “This is a package deal, this is what this operation entails.” or a specific number of postoperative days: “I will contract with them and say look if we are going to do this I am going to need thirty days to get you through this operation.” “Buy-in” is grounded in surgeons’ strong sense of responsibility for surgical outcomes and can lead to surgeon unwillingness to operate or surgeon reticence to withdraw life-sustaining therapy post-operatively. If negotiations regarding life-sustaining interventions result in treatment limitation, surgeons may shift responsibility for unanticipated outcomes to the patient.
A complicated relationship exists between surgeon and patient that begins in the preoperative setting. It reflects a bidirectional contract that is assumed by the surgeon with distinct implications and consequences for surgeon behavior and patient care.
PMCID: PMC3042894  PMID: 20048678
Ethics; Patient Autonomy; Informed Consent; Surgical Outcomes; Decision Making
22.  Information retrieval patterns and needs among practicing general surgeons: a statewide experience. 
Information retrieval has progressed from a reliance on traditional print sources to the modern era of computer databases and online networks. Surgeons, many from remote areas not served by professional medical libraries, must develop and maintain skills in information retrieval and management in both electronic and standard formats. One hundred thirty-three New Mexico general surgeons were surveyed to identify their information-seeking patterns in five areas: retrieval purposes, retrieval sources, barriers to access, techniques used, and continuing education needs. Ninety-nine (74.4%) surgeons responded to the survey. Ninety-five percent utilize professional meetings, the medical literature, and physician colleagues as information sources. Only 17% utilize the outreach services of the state's only medical school library. Common retrieval barriers were practice demands (71%), isolation from medical schools (30%), computer illiteracy (28%), and rural environment (25%). Continuing education topics related to information management would be valuable to 61% of the surgeons. Sixty-nine percent believe their current ability to access biomedical information is adequate, despite most frequently accessing their personal libraries for information related to decision-making or patient management. These data suggest that, despite significant information needs, surgeons have not embraced newer forms of information retrieval. It is imperative that surgeons acquire and maintain modern information retrieval skills as a means of remaining up-to-date in their profession. Professional surgical organizations and medical librarians should collaborate on these continuing education ventures.
PMCID: PMC226187  PMID: 8913551
23.  The practice of thoracic surgery in Canada 
Canadian Journal of Surgery  2004;47(6):438-445.
The objective of the consensus conference of the Canadian Association of Thoracic Surgeons (CATS) was to define the scope of thoracic surgery practice in Canada, to develop standards of practice, to define training and resource requirements for the practice of thoracic surgery in Canada and to determine appropriate waiting times for thoracic surgery care. A meeting of the CATS membership was held in September 2001 to address issues facing thoracic surgeons practising in Canada. The discussion was facilitated by an expert panel of surgeons and supplemented by a survey. At the end of the meeting, consensus was reached by the membership regarding the issues outline above.
The membership agreed that the scope of practice includes diagnosis and management of conditions of the lungs, mediastinum, pleura and foregut. They agreed that appropriate training in thoracic surgery included completion and certification in general or cardiac surgery prior to completing a 2-year program in thoracic surgery. The membership supported the Canadian Society of Surgical Oncology recommendations for management of cancer patients that new patients should be seen within 2 weeks of referral and cancer therapy initiated within 2 weeks of consultation. Thoracic surgical care is best delivered by 2 or 3 fully certified thoracic surgeons, in regional centres linked to a cancer centre and trauma unit. The establishment of a critical mass of thoracic surgeons in each centre would lead to improved quality and delivery of care and allow for adequate coverage for on-call and continuing medical education.
PMCID: PMC3211597  PMID: 15646443
24.  The European educational platform on thoracic surgery 
Journal of Thoracic Disease  2014;6(Suppl 2):S276-S283.
As the largest scientific organisation world-wide exclusively dedicated to general thoracic surgery (GTS), the European Society of Thoracic Surgeons (ESTS) recognized that one of its priorities is education. The educational platform designed ESTS addresses not only trainees, but also confirmed thoracic surgeons. The two main aims are (I) to prepare trainees to graduation and to the certification by the European Board of Thoracic Surgery and (II) to offer opportunities for continuous medical education in the perspective of life-long learning and continuous professional development to certified thoracic surgeons. It is likely that recertification will become an obligation during the coming decade. At its inception, the platform differentiated two different events. A 6-day course emphasizing on theoretic knowledge was created in Antalya in 2007. The same year, a 2-day school oriented to practical issues with hands-on in the animal lab was launched in Antalya. These two teaching tracks need further development. In the knowledge track, we intend to organize highly specialized 2-day courses to deepen insight into theoretical questions. The skill track will be implemented by specialized courses for high technology such as tracheal surgery, ECMO, robotics or chest wall reconstruction. In order to promote tomorrows’ leadership, we created an academic competence track giving an insight into medical communication, methodology and management. We also had to respond to an increasing demand from the Russian speaking countries, where colleagues may face problems to attend western meetings, and where the language bareer may be a major impediment. We initiated a Russian school with three events yearly in 2012. Contemporary teaching must be completed with an e-learning platform, which is currently under development. The school activities are organized by the educational committee, which is headed by the ESTS Director of Education, assisted by coordinators of the teaching tracks and e-learning platform. Ongoing discussions concern development of contemporary teaching techniques and measure of outcome. The major challenge for the coming years is harmonisation of training and certification in thoracic surgery in the European space.
PMCID: PMC4032957  PMID: 24868446
Thoracic surgery; education; life-long learning; certification
25.  The feasibility of introducing advanced minimally invasive surgery into surgical practice 
Canadian Journal of Surgery  2007;50(4):256-260.
This study investigates the feasibility of performing advanced minimally invasive surgery (MIS) in a nonspecialized practice environment.
We conducted a cross-sectional survey of all community general surgeons currently practising in Ontario.
Few community surgeons perform a high volume (> 10 procedures per yr) of advanced MIS. Most (70%) believe it is important to acquire additional skills in advanced MIS. The most appropriate methods for learning advanced MIS are believed to be expert mentoring (79.7%), courses (77.2%) and a colleague mentor (63.9%). A total of 57.6% of respondents have attended a course in MIS while in practice, and most have access to a reasonable variety of instrumentation. Respondents believe that 57.6% of assistants, 54.8% of nurses and 43.4% of anaesthetists are relatively inexperienced with advanced MIS. Barriers to establishing advanced MIS include limited operating room access (50%), resources or equipment (45.2%) and limited expert mentoring (43.6%). Surgeons with less than 10 years of practice found lack of trained nursing staff (7.9% v. 4.2%, p = 0.01) and experienced assistants (12% v. 6.2%, p = 0.008) to be more important barriers than did those with over 10 years of practice, respectively.
Most general surgeons working in Ontario are self-taught with respect to MIS skills, and few perform a high volume of advanced MIS. Only one-half of all respondents have access to skilled MIS operating room nurses, surgical assistants or anesthesiology. Despite this, general surgeons perceive the greatest barriers to introducing advanced MIS procedures to be limited access to operating rooms, resources or equipment and limited mentoring. This study has shown that the role of the surgical team in advanced MIS may be underestimated by many general surgeons. These data have important implications in training general surgeons and in incorporating additional advanced MIS procedures into the armamentarium of general surgeons.
PMCID: PMC2386170  PMID: 17897513

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