June 2004 Bulletin

State society achievements, leadership recognized

By Susan A. Nowicki, APR

The Texas Orthopaedic Association and the West Virginia Orthopaedic Society shared the honors as State Societies of the Year, while the executive directors of the California and Pennsylvania Orthopaedic Societies were spotlighted for their efforts during the National Orthopaedic Leadership Conference in April. AAOS leadership, members of the Board of Directors and the Board of Councilors (BOC) were on hand to extend their congratulations.

State orthopaedic societies play an integral role in helping to achieve political change, providing not only a forum for orthopaedic surgeons to discuss concerns of mutual interest, but also continuing medical education and mentoring opportunities. To recognize the achievements and leadership of state societies, the AAOS BOC State Orthopaedic Societies Committee established an annual awards program in 2003.

The winners of the State Society of the Year Awards were selected by a subcommittee of the BOC State Orthopaedics Societies Committee, which reviewed and ranked all nominations. The Executive Director of the Year award candidates were nominated by the leaders in their respective state orthopaedic societies. This year, based on exceptionally strong competition and quality of nominations, two candidates in each category were declared winners.

The awards were presented by Peter J. Mandell, MD, chair of the BOC, and AAOS President Robert W. Bucholz, MD. The winning state societies each received a recognition plaque and $1,000 check from the AAOS; a plaque and $500 check were presented to the each of the winning executive directors.

At the conclusion of the awards presentation, Dr. Bucholz noted that, “The state orthopaedic societies form the grassroots of our orthopaedic community and we are pleased for the opportunity to recognize and encourage their work.”

State Orthopaedic Society of the Year—Texas

The Texas Orthopaedic Association (TOA) was recognized as State Society of the Year for its accomplishments in the areas of medical liability reform, trauma funding and resident development. In announcing the award, Dr. Mandell said, “The Texas Orthopaedic Association and its leadership were instrumental in the passage of the most sweeping tort reform legislation since California’s MICRA reforms in 1975.


Accepting the State Society of the Year Award from AAOS president Robert W. Bucholz, MD, is TOA immediate past president Maureen Finnegan, MD. Looking on are (from left) David D. Teuscher, MD, chair of the TOA Legislative Committee; Mark R. Brinker, MD, BOC member from Texas; Donna Parker, TOA executive director; and John T. Gill, MD, BOC member from Texas.

Not only was the legislation passed, a constitutional amendment to support it, including a $250,000 noneconomic cap for physicians, was also approved. Physicians across Texas have benefited from a dramatic drop in medical liability suits since the legislation went into effect last September.”

The TOA’s legislative achievements also included passage of a trauma funding bill that dedicates fees collected from repeat traffic violators to trauma service providers. It also challenged podiatrists in the state who attempted to expand their scope of practice by re-defining the foot through the Texas State Board of Podiatric Medical Examiners as “the tibia and fibula in their articulation with the talus . . ., inclusive of all soft tissues . . . that insert into the tibia and fibula in their articulation with the talus.”

While the TOA’s advocacy efforts were highly successful, it also made a special effort to involve orthopaedic residents in the association as a way to develop future members and leaders. Activities included a one-day orthopaedic resident course entitled “The Business of Orthopaedics” and the first annual Resident Quiz Bowl.

Following the award presentation, TOA past president Maureen A. Finnegan, MD, announced the society was donating its $1,000 honorarium to the AAOS Medical Liability Reform Campaign.

State Orthopaedic Society of the Year—West Virginia

The West Virginia Orthopaedic Society (WVOS) was also named State Orthopaedic Society of the Year, in recognition of its successful efforts to gain passage of state medical liability reform legislation and to increase its membership 35 percent from the previous year.
David L. Waxman, MD (second from left), past president of the WVOS, accepts the State Society of the Year Award from BOC chair Peter J. Mandell, MD, (center) and AAOS president Robert W. Bucholz, MD (far left). Sharing in the presentation were William G. Sale, MD (second from right), member BOC from West Virginia; and Peter L. Meehan, MD (far right), chair of the BOC State Orthopaedic Society Committee.

In announcing the award, Dr. Mandell noted that, “In late 2001, the practice situation facing orthopaedic physicians in West Virginia was critical and getting worse. Research showed that orthopaedists able to get medical liability insurance were facing premium increases of 33 percent over the prior year and rates that had doubled in just five years. The society’s advocacy work led to the passage of the Care Bill, which set caps on medical liability damage awards and established a physician mutual insurance company.”

The WVOS was a founding member of The Care Coalition, the umbrella organization established to fund and oversee the patient, public and legislative education campaigns to support the Care Bill, which eventually became HB 2122.

Members of the WVOS also participated in “White Coat Day,” which informed state legislators of the scope and impact of the medical liability crisis on their patients, practice and the state.

The chapter’s successful advocacy efforts were far-reaching and numerous. At the state level, the passage of medical liability reform legislation helped stem the exodus of orthopaedic surgeons from the state and provided the structure for greater availability of affordable professional liability insurance.

Executive Director of the Year—California

Diane Przepiorski, executive director of the California Orthopaedic Association (COA), was singled out for honors as Executive Director of the Year. She was nominated for the award by COA president Norman P. Zemel, MD, who said, “During Diane’s time with our society we have grown from a small organization to a membership of almost 2,000 orthopaedic surgeons. Her hard work, leadership and organizational skills were instrumental in the growth process.”
Diane Przepiorski, executive director of the California Orthopaedic Association, receives the Executive Director of the Year Award from (left to right) Drs. Bucholz, Mandell and Meehan.

Dr. Mandell, who also is member of the COA, pointed out, “Diane has great political instincts.

She has an impressive ability to not only sense which problems will be of greatest concern to musculoskeletal care, but also to act on such concerns early when the maximum chance of a good result for orthopaedic patients can be achieved. Time and again on malpractice, expert witness, MediCal funding, and countless workers’ compensation matters, Diane has helped orthopaedic patients receive the highest access and quality of care possible.”

Dr. Zemel added, “In 2003 and 2004, her work in Sacramento helped us avert disaster during the recent workers’ compensation legislative changes. This was mainly due to her

personal contact with legislators and their aides. Her legislative efforts were recognized and rewarded when she represented COA at a meeting with Governor Schwarzenegger’s team working on compensation issues; invitations to this meeting went to only a select few.

“To help COA members with patient referrals from insurance carriers, Diane started education programs for nurse case managers and adjusters. She is also trying to set up an educational program for workers’ compensation judges in California,” concluded Dr. Zemel.

Executive Director of the Year—Pennsylvania

Kathy DeWittie, executive director of the Pennsylvania Orthopaedic Society (POS), was also honored as Executive Director of the Year. She was nominated by Richard G. Schmidt, MD, president of POS, who noted, “Under the exemplary leadership of Kathy DeWittie, the Pennsylvania Orthopaedic Society has emerged as the authoritative and assertive voice for orthopaedic medicine in Pennsylvania.
Kathy DeWittie, executive director of the Pennsylvania Orthopaedic Society, receives the Executive Director of the Year Award from (left to right) Drs. Bucholz, Mandell and Meehan.

She is the force behind the success of POS and its establishment as the most significant specialty medical society in Pennsylvania. Ongoing aggressive membership and recruit and retention campaigns have achieved the society’s 47 percent increase in membership since 1993, going from 645 members to 949 members today.”

While increasing membership, Ms. DeWittie also helped POS distinguish itself as a credible resource of information and solutions within the state on a number of health care issues—most notably medical liability, reimbursement and workers’ compensation reforms, according to POS past president John D. Kelly IV, MD. “Kathy DeWittie has been the singular most consistent organizational force in effecting reform for Pennsylvania orthopaedists in the last decade,” he said.

“As most already recognize, the Commonwealth has been stricken with an overwhelming professional liability burden and declining reimbursements. At a time when emotions run high and reactivity is easily enacted, Kathy has steadfastly encouraged our membership to proceed toward our goals in intelligent and methodical fashion. She has rallied our membership to stay united and to fight our battles with as many allies as possible. She has remained the ‘voice of reason’ during times of peril and continues to be the ‘conscience’ of the society.”


Home Previous Page