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February 2009

Academy Notebook

What's Happening 

Dr. Abbott: New Chairman of the Board at OMIC

Richard L. Abbott, MD, succeeded Joe R. McFarlane Jr., MD, JD, as chairman of the Ophthalmic Mutual Insurance Company’s board of directors on Jan. 1. “I can’t think of a better person to lead OMIC,” said Dr. McFarlane. “Dr. Abbott’s entire career has been dedicated to the support and protection of the ophthalmic profession.”

Dr. Abbott, clinical professor of ophthalmology at the University of California, San Francisco, has been devoted to ophthalmic research, clinical care and education for more than two decades and is regarded as one of the country’s foremost authorities on quality of care and risk management issues in ophthalmology. Dr. Abbott joined OMIC’s board of directors as chairman of the underwriting committee in 1999, after serving on the committee for six years. In 2006, he became a member of the executive committee.

Dr. Abbott has held several leadership positions within the Academy, including serving on the board of trustees. He has also served on the boards of the International Council of Ophthalmology and The Cornea Society and was a director of the American Board of Ophthalmology. He is the current president of the Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology.

“OMIC is the leader in our industry because ophthalmologists trust and rely on our expertise,” Dr. McFarlane said. “Dr. Abbott’s commitment to improve the delivery of ophthalmic care and identify the trends that result in lower exposure to malpractice claims will benefit the entire ophthalmic community.”

When accepting his nomination, Dr. Abbott acknowledged the contributions of Dr. McFarlane during his 20 years of leadership. “Dr. McFarlane exemplifies all of the qualities that I hope to emulate during my service as OMIC’s chairman,” said Dr. Abbott. “During his tenure, our company experienced not only tremendous growth but also considerable influence within our specialty.”

For more about OMIC, visit



Come Enjoy the Mid-Year Forum Entertainment

The Academy will be highlighting its inaugural Eye- Smart Campaign awardee, Norm Abram of the PBS series This Old House, during the Mid-Year Forum Welcome Dinner on Thursday, April 23. Mr. Abram is being recognized for his longstanding commitment to promoting the use of protective eyewear.

Following the presentation, Tucker Carlson will take the stage as the dinner speaker. Mr. Carlson was the senior campaign correspondent for MSNBC and will cover topics from politics to pop culture.

On Saturday, April 25, the Capitol Steps will close the Mid-Year Forum program. Performing for over 25 years, the Capitol Steps began as a group of Senate staffers committed to satirizing the very people who employed them and the situations in which they found themselves.

For more information or to register for the Mid-Year Forum, visit


New EyeSmart Article Service

EyeSmart, the Academy’s public awareness campaign, has launched a new eye health article service to make it easier for members to share tips and recent news about eye health with patients. Each month, EyeSmart editors select a mix of news briefs and educational articles from the monthly EyeSmart News e-mail newsletter and reformat them for use in other contexts. Content is available in MS Word format.

These articles are accessible via the Eye Health News page of the Academy’s Web site. Visit and select “Downloads” to browse the latest articles, or select “E-mail Subscriptions” to have items e-mailed to you automatically each month.

To learn about other free educational resources developed as part of the EyeSmart campaign, visit Information for patients is also available at, the Academy’s public education Web site.


Access to Ocular Side Effects Registry for Academy Members

The Academy has established a linkage with the National Registry of Drug-Induced Ocular Side Effects. Using the Academy’s Web site, members can now look up information about adverse ocular reactions from systemic and ocular drugs, chem icals and herbals. Reports can also be submitted to help provide early warning of possible problems. The Registry accumulates data from sources such as the FDA, pharmaceutical companies, scientific literature and the World Health Organization.

For more information, visit


Wrong-Site Guidelines Now Available

These recommendations of the Academy’s Wrong-Site Task Force are now available online. These guidelines are designed to minimize the incidence of preventable surgical errors regarding surgical site (e.g., wrong eye) and surgical procedure (e.g., wrong IOL implant), and are divided into three main sections: steps taken prior to surgery day, steps taken on the day of surgery and procedures dependent upon preoperative calculations. All members are encouraged to down load the document and to revise their procedures where appropriate.

This report is the result of collaborative efforts from the Academy and representatives of several subspecialty societies, the Ophthalmic Mutual Insurance Company and other organizations.

To access the recommendations, visit and select “Practice Guidelines” and “Patient Safety.”


Plan on Running for Office?

The Academy is offering a workshop to provide ophthalmologists interested in running for local, state or federal office with the skills necessary to determine viable opportunities and identify pathways to success.

The workshop will take place on April 22 at the Capital Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C., in conjunction with the Mid-Year Forum and Congressional Advocacy Day.

To register, e-mail Kim Orubor at or call the Academy’s Governmental Affairs office at 202-737-6662.


Become an Ophthalmic Coding Specialist

The American Academy of Ophthalmic Executives and the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (JCAHPO) have joined forces to offer administrators, office managers and billing staff an opportunity to obtain the Ophthalmic Coding Specialist designation. This recognition is awarded to those who pass the open-book Ophthalmic Coding Specialist Exam, a test covering all aspects of ophthalmic coding.

To learn more, visit To register for the exam, contact JCAHPO at 800-284-3937.


Did You Know?

U.S. Academy members receive valuable financial services benefits as part of membership. First Data helps you save money on office credit card transactions with processing services designed to meet the unique requirements of ophthalmology practices. These benefits (formerly provided by Chase Paymentech Solutions) include no annual fee or monthly minimum, no conversion or terminal reprogramming fees, and 24-hour technical support. To learn more, visit

U.S. members are also eligible to apply for a Bank of America WorldPoints credit card with no annual fee, high credit lines, a rewards program and concierge service. To apply, call 800-438-6262 and mention priority code FABTQ3. Bank of America also offers U.S. members a personal or business line of credit with no application or annual fees, and no collateral is required. To apply, call 888-628-7700.


Academy Store 

New Patient Education Eye Fact Sheet

The Academy has introduced the BPH Medications and Eye Surgery eye fact sheet (#057157) to its line of patient education materials.

This sheet discusses how alpha blocker drugs for BPH can increase the risk of complications from intraoperative floppy iris syndrome during eye surgery, especially cataract surgery.

Eye fact sheets come in packages of 25. Each package is $9 for members and $11 for nonmembers.

To order, visit or phone the Academy Service Center at 866-561- 8558 (toll-free in the United States) or 415-561-8540.


Meeting Matters 

Subspecialty Day Videos Available

DVD-ROMs of the 2008 Subspecialty Day meetings and Cataract Spotlight symposium are available for purchase:

  • Cornea 2008: Emerging Trends—Evolution or Revolution?
  • Glaucoma 2008: The Pendulum Swings
  • Pediatric-Ophthalmology 2008: Basics and Breakthroughs in Managing Strabismus and Pediatric Eye Disease
  • Refractive Surgery 2008: The Danger Zone
  • Retina 2008: Vistas and Viewpoints
  • Uveitis 2008: How Should We Diagnose and Treat Our Patients?
  • Spotlight on Cataract Surgery 2008: Cataract Comp lications—Video Case Studies: Why? What Now? How?

For more information, select “Scientific Program” and “Meeting Archives” at


Members At Large 


Jayakrishna Ambati, MD, has been awarded the 2008 Doris Duke Distinguished Clinical Scientist Award by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

The award provides $1.5 million in research funding and recognizes outstanding mid-career physician-scientists who are applying scientific advances to the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure of disease. Dr. Ambati is professor of physiology and professor and vice chairman of ophthalmology and visual sciences at the University of Kentucky.

The Nebraska Academy of Eye Physicians (NAEPS) has awarded Peter J. Whitted, MD, JD, with its Appreciation Award for his many years of service and advocacy with NAEPS and the Academy.

Dr. Whitted has been a member of the NAEPS executive committee since 1987 and is currently an Academy trustee-at-large and a member of the Foundation of the Academy’s board of directors. At present, Dr. Whitted also serves as the vice chief of staff at the Nebraska Medical Center, as well as a clinical instructor at the University of Nebraska College of Medicine.


Washington Report

Reforming the Health Care System

While economic issues will take up a majority of President Obama’s first year in office, he and many in Congress have indicated that revamping health care must be a part of any long-term economic solution. In fact, key congressional leaders wasted little time in drafting outlines of comprehensive plans for major health care reform months before President Obama took office. The focus on a health care overhaul continues despite the severe fiscal constraints that the president and Congress face due to recent economic stimulus packages that could raise the deficit to more than $1 trillion.

There is a great deal of congressional support for comprehensive health care reform in 2009. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D–Mass.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, has been working with Sen. Max Baucus (D–Mont.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, and Sen. Kent Conrad (D–N.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on the Budget, on a plan that includes a number of similarities to the president’s ideas.

Whether Congress will pass mandates for insurance coverage in the current economic environment remains to be seen, but without them, significant coverage of the uninsured will be limited. The key issue for ophthalmologists is what happens to Medicare. “Rebasing” the sustainable growth rate formula for physician pay is on everyone’s list, although how to cover its nearly $300 billion cost could be very controversial. Rebasing would prevent the nearly 40 percent in Medicare cuts that physicians face.

There is broad agreement that a fee-for-service system is not sustainable. With Democrats and Republicans agreeing on the need for quality incentives, expansion of the Medicare Physician Quality Reporting Initiative program is likely. While the Academy and others have developed evidencebased measures so ophthalmologists can participate in the quality incentive program, the program has not demonstrated a significant impact on quality of care for ophthalmic patients. Congress is likely to push for physician adoption of electronic medical records, initially providing financial incentives as they did for implementing e-prescribing.

A key risk for ophthalmology and other specialties results from calls for improved Medicare payment to primary care physicians paid for in a budget-neutral manner (i.e., through cuts in payments to specialties). The American College of Surgeons has called for a return to multiple conversion factors for Medicare payment instead of reworking the SGR formula. The Academy would support multiple conversion factors, with conditions.