SAN DIEGO – Two thoracic societies are being challenged to review their rejection of at medical meetings.
The American Association for Thoracic Surgery and Society of Thoracic Surgeons “should modify their stance on live surgery as an educational tool like almost all of their sister organizations,” said Joseph E. Bavaria, MD, FACS, of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. “Presently, it is effectively a ban on the practice. But there are no data to suggest that it does harm to patients if done with proper constraints.”
Live broadcasts of surgeries at medical meetings are both common and controversial. Dr. Bavaria listed numerous recent thoracic meetings in Europe and Canada that featured live broadcasts. But, he noted, the AATS and STS are not supportive of the trend.
In a policy amended in 2017, the AATS states, among other things, that “national and international cardiothoracic societies should consider prohibiting live surgery broadcasts to large audiences at their annual meetings.” The STS policy, amended in 2016, is nearly identical. However, it adds language specifying that “violation of these guidelines may lead to disciplinary action by the Society.”
Both the AATS and STS policies state that surgeons should not take part in live broadcasts of operations that are intended for the public. And both policies say “generally, recorded broadcasts, either edited or unedited, are preferable to live surgery broadcasts because recordings intended for later broadcast pose fewer risks of harm to patients.”
The policies don’t elaborate on how a live broadcast of an operation might be more harmful than one aired at a later time. “Where are the data to support this statement?” Dr. Bavaria asked. “Is this what we call the expert opinion of a few people with gray hair? Our European and Canadian colleagues certainly don’t agree with [the policies] and might take issue with our sanctimonious lecturing that’s not supported by any data whatsoever.”