American Academy of Ophthalmology Web Site: www.aao.org
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February 2012

 
Academy Notebook
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WHAT’S HAPPENING 

Members Satisfied With Career Choice, Academy

According to the biennial Academy membership survey,1 the average ophthalmologist is happy with his or her career choice and satisfied with the Academy.

Eighty-eight percent of U.S. members indicated that they were satisfied with their career choice, and 67 percent would recommend a career in ophthalmology to a young person. “The fact that nearly 9 out of 10 of us are happy with the profession of ophthalmology—but not quite 7 of those same 10 would recommend it—may reflect the increasing anxiety that our members feel about the health care environment in particular and the American economy in general,” said Academy Secretary for Member Services Tamara R. Fountain, MD. “The fact that so many of us continue to be happy with our career choice despite the obvious external pressures on the profession tells me there is still a great deal of reward and honor in being an ophthalmologist.” U.S. members in training, along with international members and members in training, expressed similar levels of career-choice satisfaction and were more likely than U.S. members to recommend ophthalmology as a career to a young person.

The majority of U.S. members (75 percent) and between 85 and 90 percent of U.S. members in training and international members and members in training indicated that they were extremely or very satisfied with the Academy. “The Academy is committed to meeting the distinct needs of its members,” said Dr. Fountain. “We also give careful consideration to programs for the 25 percent of our members who reside outside the United States. That we have seen steady improvement in our satisfaction numbers across all demographic groups surveyed is a reflection of this membership outreach.”

The survey also showed that the Academy has significantly improved its standing with young ophthalmologists. When young ophthalmologists were asked how well the Academy was meeting their unique needs, 67 percent were extremely or very satisfied with the Academy, a 15 percent increase from 2007. “The Academy made a conscious decision several years ago to make a considerable investment in programming for our young ophthalmologists,” said Dr. Fountain.   “We are seeing here, with these satisfaction ratings, the rich return on that investment.”

There is always room for improvement, however. One way the Academy measures its performance is by looking at the gap between the priority that members place on an Academy activity and their perception of how effectively the Academy performs that activity. As has been the case historically, members indicated that the Academy meets their expectations for an effective Annual Meeting and meets U.S. members’ expectations for providing clinical and patient education materials. On the other hand, responses from U.S. members and U.S. members in training reveal that the Academy can do a more effective job in advocating to federal and state governments, while a significant portion of international members believe the Academy can improve its collaboration with international ophthalmology societies.

In general, however, satisfaction with the Academy has increased consistently over the past decade. In 1999, 58 percent of U.S. members were extremely or very satisfied with the Academy. This figure has increased with each biennial survey. “As happy as our members are,” said Dr. Fountain, “they are also honest and forthcoming about areas in which the Academy can improve. This is perhaps the most important type of feedback we can get from these biennial surveys. It helps the Academy fulfill its mission to improve the professional lives of its ophthalmologist members.”
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1 This survey was sent to 7,000 U.S. practicing members, 960 of whom responded. The sampling error is ± 3.2 percent. Separate surveys were sent to U.S. members in training, international members and international members in training.

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HAITI UPDATE. Two years after the devastating earthquake, progress continues in improving the eye health of Haitians and the services offered by Haitian ophthalmologists. During a January trip, Haitian-American Mildred M. G. Olivier, MD, and other U.S. ophthalmologists volunteered their services—providing everything from vision checks and eyeglasses to cataract and glaucoma surgery. Dr. Olivier and other Academy members were also involved in securing major donations of supplies and equipment.

For more information, visit www.aao.org/community and search for “Haiti, Two Years Later” in the Blog Posts dropdown.

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TAKE NOTICE 

Ask the Ethicist: Expert Witness for a Cardiology Case

Q: I have been asked to provide expert witness testimony in a malpractice case involving visual loss following uncomplicated coronary bypass surgery. Visual loss in bypass surgery, although somewhat unusual, is not an unknown complication. I believe this visual loss was directly caused by improper blood flow resulting in severe edema (malpractice) during the surgical procedure. Should I provide testimony outside my specialty if I believe I am on firm footing to support my position on malpractice?

A: Neither the Academy nor the Ethics Committee has any power or desire to limit the types of cases in which its members might choose to testify. Ultimately, it will be up to the trial judge to review your qualifications and determine whether you will be allowed to testify. As an expert, you will likely be asked to render opinions regarding causality between negligent acts, the plaintiff’s injury, the extent of that injury and whether the care provided fell below the established standard of care (i.e., negligence). This is an extraordinarily responsible position, requiring not only scrupulous honesty and objectivity but also true expertise in what may become a very detailed analysis of facts and circumstances.

Providing testimony outside your normal area of practice will require extensive preparation. You will also need to exercise great care so as to avoid being trapped on cross-examination while you are in unfamiliar territory. In any expert testimony situation, it is your obligation as an Academy member to comply with Rule 16 of the Code of Ethics, regardless of the type of case at issue. Central to Rule 16 is the requirement that your testimony must not be false, deceptive or misleading. In addition, your testimony should be provided in an objective manner, based on medical knowledge to form your expert medical opinions.

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/ethics and select “Code of Ethics.”

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New Ophthalmic Technology Assessment

The Ophthalmic Technology Assessment on Functional Indications for Upper Eyelid Ptosis and Blepharoplasty Surgery appeared in the December Ophthalmology. This OTA reviews the clinical evidence and concludes that functional indications for blepharoplasty surgery include decreased margin–reflex distance 1 in primary or reading gaze, superior visual field reduction, chin-up backward head tilt and patient-reported quality-of-life impairment.

To read OTAs, visit www.aao.org/one and select “Practice Guidelines” and “Ophthalmic Technology Assessments.” Full text is free to members and Ophthalmology subscribers.

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EyeSmart Launches Spanish Website

You can now direct your Spanish-speaking patients to a Spanish-language version of the EyeSmart public education site.

Like its English counterpart, www.ojossanos.org features information on more than 30 diseases and conditions, provides advice on eye-healthy living, and offers short videos and more.

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ONE SPOTLIGHT : LISTEN UP! NEW PODCASTS FROM THE COMMITTEE ON AGING. The ONE Network is now featuring four podcasts that discuss the impact of ocular disease on the older population. In each segment, members of the Academy’s Committee on Aging tackle a different disease and share their experiences in caring for aging adults. Topics include:

  • age-related macular degeneration
     
  • nonarteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy
     
  • ischemic oculomotor neuropathy
     
  • diabetic macular edema

To listen, visit www.aao.org/one and click on “Videos and Podcasts” under “Educational Content.” All podcasts on the ONE Network are free member benefits.

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ACADEMY STORE 

Help Your Patients Make Informed Decisions

Many Academy patient education DVDs now contain “Aid to Informed Consent” chapters that have been reviewed by the Ophthalmic Mutual Insurance Company. These segments can help you communicate to your patients the benefits and risks of a particular procedure.

Topics with consent chapters include AMD, diabetic retinopathy, cataract surgery, glaucoma, IOL options for cataract surgery, and LASIK and wavefront refractive procedures.

Each DVD is $225 for members and $295 for nonmembers.

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

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Ensure That Your Practice Codes Accurately

Developed by the AAOE, the 2012 Ophthalmic Coding Coach book (#0120314) is a reference guide for obtaining proper payment when coding surgeries and special testing. It contains detailed content on each CPT code involving ophthalmology, as well as information about descriptors, diagnosis code links and more.

This text is $215 for members and $290 for nonmembers.

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

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Check Out the Latest Exam Prep for Your Allied Health Staff

The fifth edition of Ophthalmic Medical Assisting: An Independent Study Course (#0211205V) is a comprehensive text and online self-examination for ophthalmic allied health professionals. It covers all topics of the U.S. and international curricula and serves as a prerequisite for the Certified Ophthalmic Assistant exam administered by the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology.

This self-study course includes:

  • New chapters on ocular motility, low vision, ethics, legal and regulatory issues, and community health eye care,
     
  • Detailed descriptions of 44 procedures incorporating evidence-based information and new technologies,
     
  • More than 300 photographs and illustrations, and
     
  • Learning aids throughout chapters, including self-assessment questions and suggested activities and resources.

This course is $150 for members and nonmembers.

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

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 Joint Meeting (Nov. 10 to 13) and Subspecialty Day (Nov. 9 and 10) in Chicago. Visa applications should be made no later than 90 days prior to travel.

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 approval. Additional passport requirements may apply.

For more information and to access other Joint Meeting travel information, visit www.aao.org/2012.



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MEMBERS AT LARGE 

MEMBERS AT LARGE : PEOPLE. Jayakrishna Ambati, MD, professor and vice chairman of ophthalmology and visual sciences at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine in Lexington, has been named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Each year, the AAAS elects members whose efforts on behalf of the advancement of science or its applications are scientifically or socially distinguished. Dr. Ambati is being honored for contributions to the understanding of age-related macular degeneration and ocular angiogenesis, particularly for revealing surprising functions of chemokines, noncoding RNAs and toll-like receptors in their pathogenesis.

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D.C. REPORT 

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

The Academy’s 2012 Congressional Advocacy Day is scheduled for April 25 and 26. 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 a permanent Medicare physician pay fix and passage of the Academy-backed Veterans Health Administration Ophthalmic Service Establishment Act of 2011 will take center stage at this year’s event.

Congressional Advocacy Day begins with a briefing on the evening of April 25 at the Renaissance Downtown Hotel in Washington, D.C., where attendees will get tips on advocating effectively to Congress and will be informed of key legislative priorities. On April 26, participants will put their advocacy skills to work when they meet with members of Congress and congressional staff. Meetings will be scheduled by the Academy.

Nineteen ophthalmic subspecialty and specialized-interest societies will join the Academy in the 2012 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 fellows via the Academy’s Advocacy Ambassador Program.

Congressional Advocacy Day officially kicks off the Academy’s Mid-Year Forum taking place April 25 to 28. The Mid-Year Forum provides an opportunity for Academy leaders and leaders of allied ophthalmic organizations to identify and discuss critical issues facing ophthalmology. This year, the forum includes a series of hearings on topics such as physician profiling, keeping ophthalmic innovation alive and the status of medical registries.

There is no fee for Congressional Advocacy Day. However, the registration fee for the Mid-Year Forum is $200 before March 9 and $250 thereafter. On-site registration is also available.

Mark your calendar to attend. Your participation can significantly impact the profession. For more information, visit www.aao.org/myf.

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