AAOS Bulletin - June, 2005

State society achievements recognized

By Susan A. Nowicki, APR

The Nevada Orthopaedic Society was honored as State Society of the Year, and the executive director of the West Virginia Orthopaedic Society was recognized for her work during the National Orthopaedic Leadership Conference in April. AAOS leadership, members of the Board of Directors and leaders of 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 both a forum for concerns of and opportunities for continuing medical education and mentoring. To recognize their achievements and leadership, the BOC State Orthopaedic Societies Committee established an annual awards program in 2003. The 2005 State Society of the Year and Executive Director of the Year were selected by a subcommittee, which reviewed and ranked all nominations.

The awards were presented by Frank B. Kelly, MD, chair of the BOC; Peter L. Meehan, MD, chair of the BOC State Orthopaedic Society Committee; and AAOS President Stuart L. Weinstein, MD. The winning state society received a recognition plaque and $1,000 check from the AAOS; a plaque and $500 check were presented to the winning executive director.

At the conclusion of the awards presentation, Dr. Kelly 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.”

Accepting the State Society of the Year Award from AAOS President Stuart L. Weinstein, MD (holding plaque), is NVOS President Fred C. Redfern, MD. Looking on are (left) Peter L. Meehan, MD, chair of the BOC State Orthopaedic Society Committee and (right) Frank B. Kelly, MD, BOC chairman.

Diane Slaughter, executive director of the WVOS, receives the Executive Director of the Year Award from (l to r) Drs. Meehan, Weinstein, Kelly and William G. Sale III, MD, councilor from West Virginia.

State Orthopaedic Society of the Year— Nevada

The Nevada Orthopaedic Society (NVOS) was recognized as State Society of the Year for its accomplishments in the areas of medical liability reform and trauma funding. In announcing the award, Dr. Kelly said, “The NVOS was instrumental, if not pivotal, in obtaining MICRA-type medical liability tort reform in the state of Nevada in 2004. NVOS was the driving force in a grassroots effort to pass a ballot initiative to strengthen the initial tort reform bill and to defeat two ballot initiatives floated by trial attorneys that would have made important tort reform provisions unconstitutional.”

The society was also responsible for the temporary closure in 2002 of the trauma center at University Medical Center in Las Vegas, which brought home the severity of the medical liability crisis to the governor, who then called a special session of the legislature.

As in several states where rising medical liability premiums have been driving physicians to move out of state, retire or reduce their practices, Nevada physicians were in flux. In 2004, Keep Our Doctors in Nevada obtained the required signatures to place Question 3, which provided MICRA-type reform with a cap of $350,000 on noneconomic damages, on the November ballot. In response, trial attorneys placed Questions 4 and 5 on the ballot, trying to make it unconstitutional in Nevada to limit noneconomic damages or attorney fees.

Fred C. Redfern, MD, then president of NVOS, obtained a $30,000 grant from AAOS and supplied each orthopaedic surgeon in the state with a banner and hundreds of brochures promoting the benefits of voting “YES on 3” and “NO on 4 and 5.” NVOS also purchased four billboards in the Las Vegas area for the final two weeks of the campaign.

In addition to motivating physicians to act, NVOS recruited patients to help support tort reform in the state. “We encouraged our patients to take these flyers and become soldiers in the battle for tort reform by speaking to all of their family members, friends, co-workers and members of every social organization that they were in,” Dr. Redfern said. “One patient even passed out flyers to his bowling league.”

As a result, Question 3 passed by almost 60 percent and ballot initiatives 4 and 5 were defeated by more than 60 percent. According to Dr. Redfern, “Utilizing the strength of the doctor/patient relationship as an effective grassroots tool enabled us to get tort reform in Nevada.”

Dr. Redfern added that the immediate impact of passage of tort reform at the state level was to dramatically change the attitude of physicians practicing there. “Some of our colleagues, in particular the anesthesiologists, had given up and were not willing to be part of the fight,” Dr. Redfern said. “When they saw how hard the orthopaedic surgeons were fighting and saw the result, many of them changed their minds and are planning on staying in the state.

“I know from speaking to our members that our attitudes have changed from feeling that it is ‘hopeless’ to being very optimistic that this tort reform will lead to lower rates of lawsuits and to lower premiums. Although difficult to measure, it is significant to the quality of life to the orthopaedic surgeons in this state.”

Dr. Meehan added that, “Dr. Redfern deserves a lot of credit for the Nevada society’s success. He personally helped to mobilize doctors throughout the state to get the tort reform ballot initiative passed. Just as important, he helped to scuttle the trial lawyers’ two initiatives. I was impressed by how he got everyone organized and moving forward. He did a remarkable job.”

Executive Director of the Year—West Virginia

Diane Slaughter, executive director of the West Virginia Orthopaedic Society (WVOS), was singled out for honors as Executive Director of the Year. She was nominated for the award by WVOS president William G. Sale III, MD, who said, “Ms. Slaughter has provided us superb ‘organizational glue.’ We are recognized by our medical community as one of the best-organized specialty societies in the state. Most importantly, we now have more orthopaedic surgeons coming into the state and fewer leaving.”

Since Ms. Slaughter joined WVOS, the society’s educational programming, along with industry support for its activities, has grown appreciably. Dr. Sale noted that, “We now have two meetings a year. We have had a three-fold increase in vendor attendance, increased allied health attendance and a consistently large percentage of members attending.”

Dr. Sale added that Ms. Slaughter has brought financial stability to the society, allowing the group to expand its impact within the community. “Ms. Slaughter was handed a bank statement of -$333.00 when she started,” he said. “We now have $44,000 in the bank and have recently given the West Virginia University Department of Orthopaedics $5,000 to help fund a resident research program.”

Most importantly, Dr. Sale noted, “She provided professional organizational structure. Regular meetings, minutes and planning financial stability became operational. Ms. Slaughter collaborated with other West Virginia health care organizations and served as a key member of the CARE Coalition of Health Care Providers whose only agenda in 2002-2003 was medical liability reform. She provided society structure so our leadership could ‘lead.’ The West Virginia Legislature passed major MICRA-like tort reform in 2003 and we were a part of the reason why.”


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