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WHAT’S HAPPENING 

Academy’s CME Program Earns Highest Honors

The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education has evaluated the Academy’s CME activities and has accredited the Academy with the highest level of approval: accreditation with commendation. Only 11 percent of physician membership organizations have received accreditation at this level since standards were changed in 2006.

The Academy’s CME program has also launched an improved online CME Central. Upgrades include the exporting of CME history into an .xml file that will be accepted by the American Board of Ophthalmology, the ability to include the name of the accrediting organization for credits earned through other CME providers and tracking of the location where live activities took place. The new site also features an easier and faster search for CME activities, including a new keyword search.

To access this service, visit www.aao.org/cme.

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Changing of the Guard at OMIC

The Ophthalmic Mutual Insurance Company (OMIC) has announced that John W. Shore, MD, has succeeded Richard L. Abbott, MD, as chairman of OMIC’s board of directors. Dr. Abbott, who became Academy president in January, will continue to serve on OMIC’s board through 2011.

“During a time of significant change within health care, leadership requires the vision to bring disparate forces together,” said Dr. Abbott. “There is simply no other person I can think of who is better equipped, through talent, intellect and experience, to fulfill this role within OMIC.”

Dr. Shore joined OMIC’s board of directors in 2005 after serving for six years as an OMIC committee member. In 2007, he was selected to serve as chairman of the risk management committee. Under the leadership of Dr. Shore, OMIC’s risk management program grew to become the leading loss prevention program for ophthalmologists in the United States, highlighted by joint educational alliances with virtually every ophthalmic state and subspecialty society.

In addition to his work at OMIC, Dr. Shore has held several leadership positions within both military and civilian practice.

For more information, visit www.omic.com.

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HAITI UPDATE : FROM DISASTER TO SUSTAINABLE EYE HEALTH SERVICES.

The Academy’s Task Force on Haiti Recovery was created within days of last year’s devastating earthquake as reports came in from Haitian ophthalmologists of destroyed hospitals, supply shortages and the challenges of treating quake-related eye injuries. Within weeks, the Academy secured donations and coordinated distribution of equipment valued at more than $500,000.

Led by former Academy president Michael W. Brennan, MD (above), the Task Force quickly agreed to work with and through the Haitian Society of Ophthalmology (SHO). “We felt that forming international alliances and collaborating with the Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology and the West Indies Society would best help our Haitian colleagues,” Dr. Brennan said.

Since the initial response, the Task Force solicited aid—receiving nearly $16,000 of donated equipment during last year’s Joint Meeting—and worked with Haitian colleagues to rebuild their practices so that patients will be able to rely on local Eye M.D.s rather than aid organizations for their care. “We determined that materials for mobile exam capacity were more important initially than Eye M.D. manpower,” Dr. Brennan said. “Donated portable slit lamps and tonometers enabled Haitian ophthalmologists to care for patients in tent camps. Volunteer subspecialists were later integrated into the response.”

The SHO is in the process of fulfilling three high-priority initiatives: provide “mini-fellowships” for training in top-priority subspecialties; train ophthalmic assistants; and develop technicians who will keep equipment functional.

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TAKE NOTICE 

Ask the Ethicist: Retrospective Chart Review
By the Ethics Committee and IRB Oversight

Q: I planned a retrospective chart review to prepare a paper on the correlation of certain genetic markers to the development of macular degeneration. My practice administrator refused access to the records for this purpose without getting approval from an institutional review board (IRB). Why would I ever need an IRB to research data from my own patients’ charts?

A: Federal regulations state that any activity that is a systematic investigation designed or developed to add to “generalizable medical knowledge” (e.g., papers, posters, courses or presentations to be given at professional meetings or for publication) is considered research. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Office of Human Research Protection (OHRP) have oversight over all research involving human subjects. All research, retrospective or otherwise, that will contribute to professional knowledge must have IRB oversight.

There are exemptions to the regulations, and ophthalmologists are advised to review the OHRP’s website at www.hhs.gov/ohrp to familiarize themselves with these regulations.

In addition to federal requirements for IRB oversight, sponsoring organizations to which you plan to present the research data or in whose journal you hope to publish the data will likely require IRB approval or a written exemption for the study from an IRB. IRB approval and written exemptions cannot be granted retrospectively so, if in doubt, always inquire and get the approval—or, if available, the exemption—first.

With respect to enforcement, the HHS and OHRP have an inspection and enforcement wing, and individuals found to have violated the regulations could be subjected to an audit, among other actions. If research is performed using federal funding and the investigator fails to get IRB approval, the federal government has the authority to impose a sanction on the individual. Ultimately, a researcher can be disqualified from participating in any federally funded research.

In the private sector, an individual who fails to get IRB approval for a study (when required) will run afoul of the publisher’s or meeting sponsor’s requirements. Enforcement in this arena generally results in nonpublication and enforced nonparticipation.

If a private practitioner performs a retrospective chart review for the particular purpose of gathering information for internal use (e.g., quality assurance or to spot patterns of eye disease in the surrounding community), oversight by a review board would not be necessary.

For more information or to submit a question for this column, contact the Ethics Committee staff at ethics@aao.org. To read the Code of Ethics, visit www.aao.org/about and click “Ethics” and “Code of Ethics.”

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Board Reaffirms Policy Statement

The Academy board of trustees has voted to reaffirm the Misinformation About Ophthalmology or the Academy policy statement.

To read it, visit www.aao.org/about and click “Policy Statements.”

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New AAOE Membership Category for Coders and Billers

Enroll your coders and billers in this new AAOE membership category to ensure that they have access to the Academy’s coding experts and the latest information on critical coding issues.

To be eligible, staff must work in a practice that already employs a standard AAOE member.

For AAOE benefits and pricing, visit www.aao.org/joinaaoe.

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Educate Your Patients During Save Your Vision Month

As part of the EyeSmart public awareness campaign, the Academy has put together a package of free resources to help remind your patients about their vulnerability to eye disease and reduced vision as they age. The package includes a “Save Your Vision Month” press release and short articles on the importance of baseline eye disease screening at age 40.

To obtain these materials, visit www.aao.org/eyesmartcampaign and click “Free Practice Resources” and “Promotional Resources.”

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ONE : INSIGHTS ON CARE FOR AGING ADULTS.

How is diagnosis best established for a central retinal vein occlusion in elderly patients? Which senior patients are appropriate for focal grid laser or intravitreal triamcinolone for diabetic macular edema?

These topics and more are tackled in the Ocular Disease in the Older Population series from the Academy’s Committee on Aging. In three podcasts hosted on the Ophthalmic News and Education (ONE) Network, leading experts discuss clinical experiences in caring for older adults.

To listen to the podcasts online or to download them to your computer, visit www.aao.org/one and click “Educational Content,” “Media Library” and “Podcasts.”

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ACADEMY STORE 

Check Out New Online Coding Courses

Improve your practice’s audit readiness and compliance program with three new online coding courses: Audits, It’s Not a Matter of If, But When (#0123030V), Compliance for Ophthalmic Coding, Billing and Reimbursement (#0123029V) and Introduction to Ophthalmic Coding (#0123031V).

Each course is free for AAOE members, $149 for Academy members and $194 for nonmembers.

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Teach Your Patients About Dry Eye

The Academy has numerous patient education materials to help you explain dry eye topics to your patients.

The following products are available in print or as part of the new Downloadable Patient Education Handout Subscription (#pehandouts): Contact Lenses (#051139), Conjunctivitis (#057186), Dry Eye (#051100) and Eyedrops (#051133).

There is also a dry eye PowerPoint presentation included in The Eye Over Time CD-ROM (#054127) and dry eye animations as part of the Digital-Eyes Ophthalmic Animations for Patients Subscription (#digitaleyes). For a more in-depth explanation about dry eye, show your patients the Understanding Dry Eye video, available as a DVD (#050112) or a download (#050127V).

For pricing, visit www.aao.org/patientedproducts and enter the product numbers in the keyword search box.

TO ORDER PRODUCTS FROM THE ACADEMY STORE, visit www.aao.org/store or phone the Academy Service Center at 866-561-8558 (toll-free in the United States) or 415-561-8540.

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MEETING MATTERS 

International Members: Renew Passports and Apply for Visas

Now is the time to make sure your travel documents are up to date for this year’s Annual Meeting (Oct. 22 to 25) and Subspecialty Day (Oct. 21 and 22) in Orlando.

Thirty-six countries participate in the Visa Waiver Program. Travelers from these countries do not need visas, but they do need to have machine-readable passports and Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) approval. Additional passport requirements may apply.

Most citizens of Canada, Mexico and Bermuda do not require a visa. All need a valid standard passport.

For more information on visitor visas for travelers from other countries and to access other Annual Meeting travel information, visit www.aao.org/2011.

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MEMBERS AT LARGE 

People

The American Foundation for the Blind has awarded Lylas G. Mogk, MD, with the Migel Medal. The award was established in 1937 to honor professionals and volunteers whose achievements have improved the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired. Dr. Mogk is the founding director of the Henry Ford Health System Center for Vision Rehabilitation and Research in Grosse Pointe and Livonia, Mich. She is a former chairwoman of the Academy’s Vision Rehabilitation Committee and the SmartSight Initiative in Vision Rehabilitation.

David S. Pao, MD, has received the R. William Alexander, MD, Award from the Pennsylvania Medical Political Action Committee. The award recognizes Dr. Pao for his political involvement and advocacy for patient care, particularly at the grassroots level. Dr. Pao is the immediate past president of the Pennsylvania Academy of Ophthalmology and a member of the Academy’s Congressional Advocacy Committee.

The Memphis Business Journal has awarded Sarwat Salim, MD, with a 2010 Health Care Hero Award for her extensive outreach work and humanitarian medical services in the Memphis community as well as outside the United States. Dr. Salim is the director of glaucoma service at UT Medical Group, Inc.

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D.C. REPORT 

D.C. REPORT : Your Voice Is Needed at Advocacy Day

The Academy’s 2011 Congressional Advocacy Day is scheduled for April 6 and 7. The annual event strengthens ophthalmology’s presence on Capitol Hill, builds support for key legislative issues and ensures that federal laws and regulations promote quality eye care for patients. Issues related to implementation of the health care reform law and Medicare physician payment will take center stage at this year’s event.

Congressional Advocacy Day begins with a briefing on the evening of April 6 at the Grand Hyatt, where attendees will learn tips on advocating effectively to Congress and will be informed of key legislative priorities. On April 7, participants will put their advocacy skills to work when they meet with members of Congress and congressional staff. The Academy will schedule the congressional meetings for the doctors. There is no fee to participate in these events.

Nineteen subspecialty and specialized-interest societies will join the Academy in the 2011 Congressional Advocacy Day Partnership program to help promote attendance among their respective memberships. These societies—along with training programs—are supporting the attendance of residents and those undergoing fellowship training via the Academy’s Advocacy Ambassador Program.

Congressional Advocacy Day officially kicks off the Academy’s Mid-Year Forum taking place from April 6 to 9. The Mid-Year Forum provides an opportunity for Academy leaders and leaders of allied ophthalmic organizations to identify and discuss critical issues facing ophthalmology. The forum includes hearings on topics including electronic health records and data registries. There is also a session for ophthalmologists considering a run for public office.

Thanks in part to the sustained efforts of ophthalmologists’ influence at last year’s events, the Academy has successfully worked with House and Senate members in the continuing health care reform debate. Your participation remains critical in 2011. Make your voice heard; mark your calendar to attend the 2011 Congressional Advocacy Day and Mid-Year Forum.

For more information, visit www.aao.org/myf.

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