August 2003 Bulletin

Breaking news

AAOS Board seeks member comments on expert witness issue

The AAOS Board of Directors wants to know how members think the organization should respond to the issue of inappropriate orthopaedic expert witness testimony. That's why AAOS members recently received a short, three-question survey regarding their interest in an expanded expert witness testimony program. Information was provided on the costs and legal ramifications of three different assessment and disciplinary systems. Deadline for responses is August 22. A report on the outcome of the survey will be provided in the October issue of the Bulletin. This action comes as a result of the Board's commitment to asking members' opinions about controversial issues before making decisions.

FDA approves Enbrel to treat ankylosing spondylitis

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved an application for etanercept (Enbrel) for treatment of patients with active ankylosing spondylitis (AS), a chronic inflammatory disease affecting primarily the lower back and joints. Etanercept is also used to treat patients with rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis. For more information, view the FDA Talk Paper

FDA reports burns from rotary surgical handpieces

FDA Patient Safety News from the FDA reports that patients and users have suffered burns as a result of overheating of pneumatic and electric-powered rotary surgical handpieces used in orthopaedic and general surgical procedures to cut, shape or drill tissue. A representative event summary notes: "During a surgical osteotomy, the rotary handpiece driving the bone saw overheated and burned soft tissues in the incision. Patient required cosmetic surgery to correct scarring from the burn." The FDA notes that it has received 265 reports of injuries and malfunctions involving overheating of the devices as of March 31, 2003. The news article covers what went wrong as well as safety precautions that providers should take. View the article.

AMA Foundation launches health literacy campaign

The American Medical Association Foundation has launched a major campaign to help physicians recognize and respond to patients who have difficulty understanding health care information. According to the foundation, as many as 90 million Americans may have problems understanding the information presented to them by their physicians —a condition known as "low health literacy." The result can be deadly: When patients misunderstand medical information presented to them, adverse drug events, incomplete treatment regimens and dangerous diet and lifestyle choices are more likely. Patients are often too embarrassed to admit they don't understand, making it hard for physicians to tell if there is a problem.

As a part of the initiative, the foundation has created a variety of low-health-literacy resources for physicians, ranging from a Web site and CME course to a "toolkit"—including a 48-page manual and video on health literacy—that can be ordered for $35. Physicians can earn 2.5 hours of Category 1 CME credit by using the 2003 Health Literacy Educational Kit, Health Literacy: Help Your Patients Understand. Newsletter subscriptions, health literacy training seminars and special grants are also available. To learn more about these initiatives, call (312) 464-4200 or visit their web site.

Average compensation for orthopaedic surgeons rose 2 percent in 2002, says survey

Orthopaedic surgeons will continue to be among the top recruited specialties, says a survey by the Irving, Texas-based health care staffing firm Martin, Fletcher. Increased operating costs and level or declining reimbursements, however, mean that income for orthopaedic surgeons remains fairly flat. The average income in 2002, according to the survey, was $387,000—a 2 percent increase over 2001. View the survey results. (Acrobat Reader required)

NOF sponsors osteoporosis meetings

The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) will host a series of three regional clinical meetings on the topic "Osteoporosis: Practical approaches to prevention, diagnosis and management." The program is designed to provide orthopaedists, family practitioners, nurse practitioners and physical therapists with the latest tools and techniques for preventing, diagnosing, treating and rehabilitating patients with osteoporosis and low bone mass. Dates and locations include: Washington, D.C., Oct. 11-12, 2003; Clearwater, Fla., Nov. 22-23, 2003 and Scottsdale, Ariz., Dec. 6-7, 2003. Advance registration for physician NOF members is $160; the fee for nonmember physicians is $190. Registration includes admission to all sessions, exhibits, program syllabus and handouts, continental breakfasts, breaks, reception and Saturday evening dinner. For more information, contact Michelle Horton at NOF by phone at (202) 223-2226 or e-mail at

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