News Briefs: Fall 2019

Share Free Heart Surgery Brochure with Your Patients

When patients have heart surgery, they are eager to know when they’ll feel more like themselves again and when they can get back to doing the things they like to do. STS recently redesigned its popular “What to Expect After Heart Surgery” brochure, which offers general guidelines on what patients should and shouldn’t do once they return home. The guide, available in English, Spanish, and Hindi, covers 10 topics:

  • It’s Normal to…
  • Following Discharge
  • Care of Your Incisions
  • Care of Your Surgical Leg
  • Medications
  • Heart Surgery Discharge Symptoms
  • Activity After Surgery
  • When to Resume Usual Activities
  • Diet
  • Cardiac Rehabilitation

Visit sts.org/patients/patient-resources to download the brochure; you can print and distribute this free resource to your patients, as well as post a link to the PDF on your institution’s website.


Input Needed for CT Surgery Practice Survey

If you are an Active, Senior, or International Member practicing in the United States, make sure that you participate in the 2019 STS Practice Survey. For more than 40 years, the Society has regularly surveyed the workforce regarding demographics, practice patterns, caseloads, pressure points, and other trends. All eligible members should have received an email on September 16 from Relevant Research Inc. with information on how to participate. It is important that you share your feedback by November 1, 2019. Results will be reported in the aggregate; individual responses will be kept anonymous. If you did not receive the email or have questions about the survey, please contact Natalie Boden, Director of Marketing & Communications.


Double Your Impact: Donate to TSF Today

Time is running out on the Society’s 2019 Surgeon Match Challenge with The Thoracic Surgery Foundation (TSF). STS will match all surgeon contributions up to $100,000—but you must donate by December 31, 2019.

So far this year, the Society’s charitable arm has awarded $951,500 in funding to support surgeon-scientists in cardiothoracic surgery. Award recipients are investigating topics such as the predictive utility of machine learning algorithms in adult cardiac surgery, mitigating primary graft dysfunction via ex-vivo lung perfusion, and personalized therapy for esophageal adenocarcinoma. They’re training with experts to learn new skills, including pectus
excavatum repair, transcatheter aortic valve replacement, and complex pulmonary artery reconstruction and unifocalization. The funding also has allowed surgeons to provide underserved patients in Kenya, Mongolia, Nigeria, Nepal, Rwanda, and Uganda with lifesaving surgeries.

In addition to matching surgeon donations, the Society covers all of TSF’s administrative expenses so that 100% of each donation is applied to award programs. Plus, TSF donations are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. Help the Foundation continue supporting such important projects by contributing today at thoracicsurgeryfoundation.org/donate.


New Mitral, Tricuspid Valve Therapies Attract Heart Teams to Chicago

More than 90 cardiothoracic surgeons and members of the heart team participated in the Society’s Structural Heart Symposium, held in August in Chicago. Using an interactive format that included case-based presentations and hands-on demonstrations, faculty and attendees discussed transcatheter and other minimally invasive treatment strategies for mitral and tricuspid valve diseases.

“This was an outstanding course, with great discussion and introduction to catheter-based therapies that are currently in the pipeline,” one attendee said. Regarding the hands-on sessions and case presentations, another participant said, “The faculty explained techniques very clearly, and their advice was very practical.”

To see more photos from the symposium, visit sts.org/structuralheartphotos.


‘July Effect,’ Opioid Dependence Gain Media Attention

The “July effect” in cardiac surgery, the impact that prescribing opioids after cardiothoracic surgery has on new persistent opioid use, and the Society’s Legislator of the Year award were the subjects of three press releases issued by STS this past quarter. See page 14 for more information on the award, which was presented to Sen. Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA). 

Research published online in The Annals of Thoracic Surgery in July showed that the influx of new medical school graduates starting their in-hospital training does not result in more medical errors for cardiac surgery patients. The study, by Sameer A. Hirji, MD, Rohan M. Shah, MD, MPH, Tsuyoshi Kaneko, MD, and others from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, found no differences in mortality, in-hospital complications, costs, or length of stay between patients who were treated in Q1 (July to September with the least experienced residents) compared to those in Q4 (April to June with the most experienced residents). The research generated coverage from Becker’s Hospital Review, MD Magazine, Physician’s Weekly, and Cardiology Today, among others.

An Annals study released in August found that the amount of opioids prescribed for patients after heart and lung surgery has a direct relationship with the risk for opioid dependency and “persistent opioid use” several months after the operation. Alexander A. Brescia, MD, MSc, and colleagues from the University of Michigan Medicine in Ann Arbor determined that patients who were prescribed more than 60 pills experienced a nearly two-fold risk of chronic opioid use compared to those who were prescribed 27 or fewer pills (19.6% versus 10.4%). Media outlets including U.S. News & World Report, MedPage Today, HealthDay, and TCTMD covered the story.


Critical Care Conference Addresses Educational Needs of the Multidisciplinary Team

In September, more than 300 cardiothoracic surgeons, physician assistants, nurses, perfusionists, and other medical professionals gathered in Baltimore, Maryland, to learn about the team-based approach to cardiovascular and thoracic critical care and enhanced recovery after surgery.

The program for the Society’s 16th Annual Multidisciplinary Cardiovascular and Thoracic Critical Care Conference featured a mix of lectures, panel discussions, case-based breakouts, and original scientific abstracts. Oral abstract presentations included data on perioperative acuity assessment for pulmonary complications in cardiac surgery patients, long-term survival for patients treated with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), and a machine learning prediction model for early prognosis of ECMO support.

“This is my third time attending the conference,” said one attendee. “I always leave with enthusiasm to change my practice. The multidisciplinary approach is what makes this conference so great.”

Visit sts.org/criticalcarephotos to view more photos from the conference.


Members Censured for Abstract Submission That Violated STS Code of Ethics

The Society recently sent a letter of censure to two members for violating Section 6.1 of the STS Code of Ethics. The members were involved with research on implantation of mechanical circulatory support devices and were among the authors who described their findings in an abstract that was accepted and published in the STS 53rd Annual Meeting Abstract Book. Subsequently, an ethics complaint was filed alleging that the abstract had significant amounts of text in common with an article that was published in The Annals of Thoracic Surgery 4 years earlier.

Acting on the findings and recommendations of a Preliminary Review Panel, the Standards and Ethics Committee compared the text and found that substantial portions had been copied without attribution. Although the research and underlying data had been original work, submission of an abstract that plagiarizes the text of another violates the requirement of Section 6.1 of the Code that STS members “maintain the highest standards of honesty and integrity.” The Committee also observed that Section 6.2 of the Code requires that “Members involved in the conduct of research should comply with all institutional and governmental regulations pertaining to such research” and that plagiarism is regarded as research misconduct under rules published by multiple US government agencies.

In determining that censure was the appropriate discipline to impose in this case, the Committee balanced the seriousness of the matter against several mitigating factors, including the members’ acceptances of responsibility, the fact that the underlying research had not been plagiarized, and evidence suggesting that the submitted abstract had been drafted initially by a junior author who consulted the previous publication as a textual guide while facing linguistic challenges as non-native English speaker. The Society’s policy on disciplinary action describes censure as follows: “A written judgment, condemning the member’s actions as wrong. This is a firm reprimand.” The Committee’s action to censure the members in question was reviewed and approved by the STS Executive Committee.

It was noted that this case should serve as a reminder that every member who serves as a co-author of a publication is responsible under the Code for research misconduct by anyone on the authoring team and should take appropriate steps to guard against it. 

Visit sts.org/about-sts/ethics or contact Avidan Stern, STS Associate General Counsel, via email or at 312-202-5852 for additional information regarding this area of STS activity.