As a result of the political flap around Dr. Lazar Greenfield and the American College of Surgeons (ACS), he has resigned as the incoming president of the society. Here's an excerpt from the latest article (see: Head of Surgeons Group Resigns Over Article Viewed as Offensive to Women):
The president-elect of the American College of Surgeons resigned his position Sunday after weeks of controversy surrounding a Valentine’s Day editorial he wrote touting the mood-enhancing effects of semen on women during unprotected sex....Dr. Greenfield, 78, was the editor in chief of Surgery News when the editorial was published but resigned that position in the wake of the controversy; the entire issue of the newspaper was withdrawn. He is an emeritus professor of surgery at the University of Michigan School of Medicine....The editorial outraged many women in the field, some of whom said that it reflected a macho culture in surgery that needed to change. Dr. Barbara Bass, chairwoman of the department of surgery at Methodist Hospital in Houston and a former regent of the surgery group, the largest professional association for surgeons, said in a telephone interview Sunday that she was glad Dr. Greenfield had resigned, despite his long history of supporting women in the profession. “Some things you can’t recover from if you’re in a leadership role,” Dr. Bass said....Others said the resignation would not end the controversy. Dr. Colleen Brophy, a professor of surgery at Vanderbilt University, submitted a letter of resignation from the surgery association during the controversy and said Sunday that she had no intention of reversing herself now that Dr. Greenfield has resigned. “The editorial was just a symptom of a much larger problem,” Dr. Brophy said. “The way the college is set up right now is for the sake of the leadership instead of patients.”
I had to suppress a slight laugh at the suggestion from Dr. Brophy, quoted above, that professional medical societies such as the ACS act in a way to directly serve patients. In my opinion, such organizations are managed first to reward, honor, and bestow power on the physician leadership of the organizations. They secondly serve to protect the economic and professional interests of the members of the society. Patients may indirectly derive benefits from the actions of such societies to the extent to which quality issues pertaining to healthcare are promoted either spontaneously or on the basis of political pressure. However, it should be emphasized that many of the guild-driven goals of such organizations may work counter to the best interest of patients. For example and in a previous note, I noted that the AMA is opposed to public access to Medicare claims data (see: Medicare Billing Rife with Fraud; Need Open Web Access to Claims Database). Such access could be used to root out physician fraud.
Here is a sentence about guilds from the Wikipedia description of this term that is highly relevant to this discussion: European guilds imposed long standardized periods of apprenticeship, and made it difficult for those lacking the capital to set up for themselves or without the approval of their peers to gain access to materials or knowledge, or to sell into certain markets, an area that equally dominated the guilds' concerns. The primary concern of all guilds is to protect the financial and professional interests of its members.
I am sure that many surgeon members of the ACS may disagree with my opinion on this matter. However, I will merely cite the fact that Dr. Greenfield is 78 years old, albeit a very robust and healthy 78. Can anyone cite examples of powerful organizations in the world, outside of the British monarchy, that would choose a leader of such an advanced age? The election of Dr. Greenfield, I am sure, was a reward for his many years of devoted service to the field of surgery and to the ACS as well as a vote for the ccontinuity of the organization. The current first vice-president-elect of ACS is Patricia J. Numann, MD. She is a 1965 graduate of Upstate Medical University in Syracuse and a retired breast surgeon (see: The Patricia J. Numann Breast & Endocrine Surgery Center).