December 2003 Bulletin

Breaking News

AAOS participates in JCAHO press conference on wrong site surgery

The AAOS participated in a national press conference sponsored by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) on Dec. 2, 2003, to announce major endorsements of JCAHO’s new Universal Protocol to Prevent Wrong Site, Wrong Procedure and Wrong Person Surgeries. Forty-four leading medical organizations have endorsed the protocol, including the AAOS. Academy President James H. Herndon, MD, who was one of the featured speakers at the press conference, noted that, “AAOS fully endorses the Joint Commission’s Universal Protocol. This unified effort among surgeons, hospitals and other health care providers to initiate preoperative and other institutional regulations should assist in the elimination of wrong-site surgery in the United States.” The protocol becomes part of the accreditation standards on July 1, 2004. It includes verifying who the patient is, guidelines to mark the site and making sure the entire surgical team takes a “time out” just before the operation to discuss possible errors. While JCAHO is not allowing exceptions from the protocol, it will allow for some flexibility in the way hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers and other JCAHO-accredited institutions carry them out. To view the protocol, go to the AAOS patient safety Web site at: To view the implementation guidelines for the protocol go to:

AAOS looking for patient safety tips

The AAOS is calling for entries for its first-ever Best Patient Safety Tip Contest. All those associated with the orthopaedic industry — including residents, Academy members, orthopaedic administrators, orthopaedic nurses and allied health care workers — are invited to submit their original patient safety tips. Tips may be for doctors, nurses, health care staff and/or patients and their families. They may relate to the hospital, physician’s office or home health care experience. The Best Tip as well as the “Top 10 Patient Safety Tips” will be recognized during the Opening Ceremony of the 2004 Annual Meeting. The Patient Safety Committee will evaluate the entries. Entry forms can be submitted online or downloaded and faxed to (847) 823-7268. The submission deadline has been extended and entries must be received by January 30, 2004. If you have questions, please call Mindy Weinstein at (847) 384-4034.

Joint Registry project moves forward

The pilot phase of the American Joint Replacement Registry (AJRR) will begin in January 2004. The AAOS will work with SunClinical Data Institute on the project. The AAOS Board approved the business plan for the pilot in June. The pilot phase will include five to ten hospitals and will run from January 2004 to June 2005. Actual data collection is scheduled to begin in April and run for 12 months. The AJRR pilot will be governed by a new board and will have two committees: The Hospital Recruitment Committee and the Data Validation Committee. The current Joint Registry Oversight Panel, headed by David G. Lewallen, MD, will remain in a leadership role until the new AJRR board and committees are operational. In addition to Dr. Lewallen, current panel members are William Maloney, MD, Chair, Pilot Project Team; Richard D. Coutts, MD, chair, governance team; Joshua J. Jacobs, MD; Norman A. Johanson, MD and William W. Tipton Jr., MD. The AJRR board will hold its first meeting at the 2004 AAOS Annual Meeting.

CMS Chief Scully stepping down

Thomas A. Scully, director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), has informed President Bush and Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson that he is resigning from the agency, effective Dec. 16. Scully, who played a central role in completing long-awaited Medicare reform legislation, is considering jobs with at least four different law and private equity firms. He has said he would like to combine work at a Washington law firm and a Wall Street investment firm. Among Scully’s rumored successors are Leslie Norwalk, CMS acting deputy administrator, and William Winkenwerder, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs. During his tenure at the agency, which began in May 2001, Scully spearheaded efforts to require public reporting of health care quality data and to link provider payments with participation in such efforts. He often has been a controversial figure: This year he was the object of a lawsuit filed by the Gallup Organization and came under fire for the expense of blimp advertising for Medicare’s 1-800 number for beneficiaries.

AHRQ to support health information technology projects

As part of a larger initiative to support investments in information technology in the nation’s health care delivery system, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has announced that it is seeking applications for approximately 100 grants to plan, implement and demonstrate the value of health information technology to improve patient safety and quality of care. These grants will be part of a $50 million portfolio of grants, contracts and other activities to demonstrate the role of health information technology in improving patient safety and the quality of care. To learn more, go to

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