the boundaries of
by William H. Ward, MD
Each year, the Advocacy and Issues Committee of the Resident and Associate Society of the American College of Surgeons (RAS-ACS) hosts a symposium at the Clinical Congress that
features a debate on timely and controversial issues relevant to
surgical training and practice. Based on input from RAS-ACS
members across the nation, this year’s topic was Exploring the
Limits of Surgeon Disclosure: Where Are the Boundaries?
Over the last several decades, health care has undergone a
seismic shift toward increasing transparency, disclosure, and an
overall focus on patient-centered care. With this change in the
physician-patient relationship and the clear rejection of surgical
paternalism by society, patients, and physicians alike, the traditional boundaries between surgeon and patient have changed.
Some patient advocates and physicians demand full disclosure of
these formerly “personal” aspects of a surgeon’s practice, whereas
others defer such disclosure to the individual surgeon’s judgment,
guided by the principles of professionalism. Given the interest in
this topic among patients, legislators, and the media, it is clear
that if surgeons do not lead the discussion, third parties will ultimately decide the outcome of this debate.
Resident members of the RAS-ACS participated in this discussion by submitting essays about the challenges and opportunities
associated with surgeon disclosure, and the winners of the essay
competition were given the opportunity to participate in a live
debate at the ACS Clinical Congress 2016 in Washington, DC.
Following are the winning essays on this topic. ♦