American Academy of Ophthalmology Web Site: www.aao.org
Expand Your Community
Members can now communicate and collaborate with their colleagues in the new online Academy Community.
By joining this professional network, you can:
Also be sure to check out the Groups feature. Groups are mini-communities within the Academy’s professional network that give you a place to focus on a common interest, like subspecialties, advocacy, practice management, events or EyeNet. Within a group, you can ask questions of your peers, collaborate on ideas and post relevant photos and videos. Groups are member-driven, so your proposals for new groups are encouraged.
The Community is available for Academy members only.
To join, log in to www.aao.org and click on the “Community” tab. The Academy Community is optimized for Internet Explorer versions 7 and 8. If you are using Internet Explorer 6 or below, you will need to upgrade your Web browser to fully participate. For more information, or if you have questions, send an e-mail to email@example.com.
by Charles M. Zacks, MD
Q: Is it ethical to relinquish your hospital privileges to avoid emergency department call coverage?
A: At a time when ophthalmologists were almost exclusively dependent on a hospital for providing surgical services, it was relatively easy for hospitals to expect and secure uncompensated emergency coverage.
Over the last several decades, however, ophthalmology has transitioned to a predominantly independent private practice model that is less reliant on hospital services and facilities. In this environment, the necessity of maintaining hospital privileges and uncompensated hospital on-call duties has come into question.
In some communities, hospitals have begun to encounter difficulty maintaining coverage needed to meet federal requirements as well as credentialing criteria such as “trauma center” designation. They have therefore found it necessary to contract for paid coverage in essential specialties such as orthopedics and neurosurgery, as well as subspecialties less often called upon for emergency care. While many ophthalmologists continue to provide uncompensated coverage—motivated perhaps by requirements of insurance credentialing, tradition or a sense of community responsibility—others witnessing these paid arrangements have negotiated with hospitals to be compensated for emergency coverage. For these ophthalmologists, compensation provides a new incentive to maintain hospital affiliation.
If one wishes to avoid emergency coverage under any circumstance and is willing to relinquish hospital privileges, withdrawal from the hospital that requires emergency call is not per se unethical.
However, withdrawal may have implications for recredentialing from certain third party payers and potentially adverse effects on practice volume, professional reputation and collegiality with ophthalmologists who may be called upon to see your patients.
While there are no specific ethical guideposts for those who are considering relinquishing hospital privileges, the potential for important consequences beyond relief from the inconvenience of emergency call coverage should be considered.
For more information or to submit a question for this column, contact the Ethics Committee staff at ethics firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check Out These New COA Resources
Prepare for the Certified Ophthalmic Assistant (COA) exam with the Certified Ophthalmic Assistant Study Guide Online (#0242408VA).
This new allied health training resource is ideal for technicians studying to acquire COA certification from the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (JCAHPO).
This interactive program includes a self-study section with more than 400 multiple- choice questions and discussions. Ten 90-minute timed practice exams are also provided to help practice for the actual exam. Each exam includes questions from all 19 JCAHPO content categories—from history taking to surgical assisting—in the same proportions used in JCAHPO certification exams.
The online guide is $125 for both members and nonmembers. A print version of the study guide will be available later this month.
For more information and to view a free demonstration, visit www.aao.org/COA.
New Patient Education Kit
The IOL and Cataract Patient Education Kit (#053001) is a convenient starter bundle of patient education materials about enhanced lens options and cataract surgery.
This package is $375 for members and $480 for nonmembers, and it includes:
Save on a How-To Manual for Human Resources
Academy and AAOE members receive special pricing on HR Policies & Procedures Manual for Medical Practices, 4th ed. (#012197), published by the Medical Group Management Association.
This 416-page how-to manual provides medical practices with an easy-to-use human-resource reference tool to help practice administrators and managers manage staff, allocate resources and develop an employee handbook.
It includes a CD with sample forms, policies and procedures that you can use to customize for immediate use.
Topics include managing human resources in a medical practice, employment laws and labor relations, compensation and benefits, performance planning and evaluation, and more.
The book is $162 for members and $219 for nonmembers.
Save These Dates
Mark your calendar for the Academy’s Joint Meeting with the Middle East Africa Council of Ophthalmology (MEACO).
For the most up-to-date meeting information, visit www.aao.org/2010.
Hotel Function Space Requests for Chicago
Would your alumni or subspecialty group like to meet during the Joint Meeting in Chicago?
If so, please note that hotel function space requests are now being accepted. Assignments are made on a first-come basis.
For details, including hotel options, approved meeting times and processing fees, visit www.aao.org/function_space.
Jayakrishna Ambati, MD, has been selected as the 2010 winner of the Roger Johnson, MD Memorial Award in Macular Degeneration Research.
The award recognizes outstanding contributions to the understanding of the pathogenesis and treatment of age-related macular degeneration. “I am humbled to receive this prestigious award,” Dr. Ambati said. “It is a tribute to the tremendous ingenuity and industry of my entire team of young scientists who are as dedicated as I am to hasten the day when blindness from AMD is a distant memory.”
Dr. Ambati’s lab described the first animal model of AMD, demonstrated that complement activation triggers an advanced form of AMD and identified new imaging strategies that might detect AMD before vision loss occurs.
Dr. Ambati has also been granted a $75,000 Senior Scientific Investigator Award by Research to Prevent Blindness. This award supports nationally recognized senior scientists conducting eye research at U.S. medical institutions.
Ophthalmic Women Leaders (OWL) has appointed Pamela Gleeson as its 2010 president. Ms. Gleeson is currently chief financial officer of Santen. Prior to her appointment as president, she served as chairwoman of the organization’s finance committee.
Mildred M. G. Olivier, MD, was selected to receive the 2009 Women in Ophthalmology/ Suzanne Veronneau- Troutman Award. The annual award was presented to Dr. Olivier at the Women in Ophthalmology reception last October during the Academy’s Joint Meeting.
Who’s in the News
Andrew J. Velazquez, MD, was interviewed by The Birmingham News for a Jan. 20 story about his heroic rescue of a driver whose car had plunged in an icy lake. “Anyone else would have done the same thing,” Dr. Velazquez said. “I don’t consider what I did special or heroic. I am just glad I was there to help.”
Vision Research Sees Increase in Funding
The National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research—of which the Academy is a founding member—reports that vision researchers had more grant money available to them in fiscal year (FY) 2009, primarily due to American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding. A portion of that stimulus funding will also be available in FY2010.
FY2009. Last year, vision research saw an additional $230 million in funding over FY2008. As a result, ophthalmologists were able to apply for more NEI research grants, which address all aspects of blindness prevention and vision restoration, and Department of Defense (DOD) extramural research grants for the study of traumatic eye injury and visual dysfunction associated with traumatic brain injury.
The $230 million in additional funding was primarily composed of:
Within NIH, vision researchers not only received NEI dollars, they competed successfully for more than $20 million in funding available from the Office of the NIH Director, the NIH Common Fund and other institutes and centers.
FY2010. The FY2010 NIH appropriations, finalized in December 2009, bumped up NEI funding to $707 million. This is an $18 million, or 2.7 percent, increase over baseline FY2009. Since NEI has programmed $26.7 million of its ARRA balance for FY2010, vision researchers will have a total of $45 million more for research than the FY2009 baseline. At press time, the NIH had not yet announced awards associated with the $1.3 billion in ARRA funding for laboratory construction/renovation and instrumentation, for which many ophthalmic departments have applied.
The NIH/NEI funding will be complemented by $9 million in awards associated with the Peer Reviewed Medical Research-Vision Program dedicated-funding line item contained in both FY2009 and FY2010 defense appropriations. The DOD has decided to combine both years of funding to expedite the awards process since so many high-quality grant proposals were received that address immediate battlefield needs. At press time, the awards were slated to be announced by March 31.
This increased funding for vision research is timely, especially with the ongoing activities to celebrate NEI’s 40th anniversary and to recognize 2010–2020 as The Decade of Vision. The Academy worked closely with the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research to secure House and Senate resolutions that recognized both of these important events