American College of Surgeons
Southwestern Pennsylvania Chapter 

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  • June 04, 2020 10:06 AM | Jim Ireland

    As hospitals resume operations paused due to COVID-19, a new survey shows a majority of people are reluctant to undergo procedures and may not reschedule necessary surgical care while COVID-19 continues to circulate in communities.* To help surgeons and hospitals address patient concerns, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) has released a new resource, Preparing to Have Surgery during the Time of COVID-19.  

    A new toolkit from the ACS accompanies the release of a patient discussion guide to help you communicate with your patients about the steps your hospitals are taking to reduce the risk of COVID-19, and stresses that, when it comes to talking about COVID-19, surgeon-patient communication is a shared responsibility. 

    The survey also found surgeons are the most influential voices for patients wondering whether their care will be safe. Personalized outreach, including phone calls, can ease fears and allow patients to ask you questions about what they can expect when they arrive at the hospital, ambulatory center, or your office. They want to hear directly from you, and no level of detail is too much in our current environment. 

    Included in this toolkit are templates and resources to help you reach out to patients directly who may also have wanted to reach out to you but are not comfortable making that first phone call. Also included are resources for traditional and social media, and your hospital or practice website, including:

    • The aforementioned discussion guide, with sample questions that your patients may ask. This guide will help you gather the information you will need to have detailed conversations and answer potential patient questions.
    • A companion document to help you prepare answers to anticipated patient questions and enlist members of the care team and administration as part of the preparation process. 
    • A template press release that you can distribute to your local media.
    • Sample social media posts, images, and tips for posting.
    • A sample video script that can be used for recording on your phone or tablet, which you can post on social media or on your hospital or practice website. You can also work with your hospital’s media relations officer to record a video if your facility has its own studio or videographer. 
    • A draft newsletter article that you can post on your hospital or practice website. 

    View and Download the Toolkit

    Should you need assistance as you use these tools to facilitate patient communications, don’t hesitate to reach out to the ACS Integrated Communications team for assistance at

    ACS wants to help you resume your practice, ensure your patients feel comfortable and receive timely care, and most important, ensure they avoid costly or even life-threatening delays in care. If we can provide more assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out. Additional COVID-19 tools and resources can also be found online at

    * Revive Health. "Consumer Survey Update COVID-19." Accessed May 26, 2020. Available at:

  • June 02, 2020 1:30 PM | Jim Ireland

    On Monday, June 1st, the SWPA Chapter of the American College of Surgeons met virtually to consider interesting case presentations by surgical residents from area training programs.  Twelve cases were submitted and the top six were selected for discussion at the event.  Dr. Kristin Krupa began the evening with a presentation of “A Case of a Large Bowel Obstruction Caused by a Gallstone.”  Other presentations included “Delivering good news: a case of successful combined cesarean section and bowel resection for small bowel obstruction in the third trimester” presented by Katherine Hrebinko, MD, “Pneumopericardium in an otherwise healthy 24 year old male” presented by Kevin Train, MD, “Improvement of Liver Function Tests After Splenectomy in Patient with Schistosomiasis: A Case Review” presented by Peter Zak, MD, and “Complete Mesh Migration into the Small Bowel Following Parastomal Hernia Repair” presented by Waseem Lufti, MD.

    Hillary Simon, DO was voted Most Interesting Case for her presentation on “A Bullet within the Pericardial Sac: To Remove or Not To Remove?”  Congratulations to Dr. Simon and to all our presenters and special thanks to Chapter President Dr. Alan Murdock for moderating the evening’s event.

  • May 27, 2020 2:37 PM | Jim Ireland

    As part of its ongoing efforts to assist surgeons managing the intense financial burden placed upon them by the pandemic, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Practice Protection Committee has built upon the Practical Suggestions and Options to Consider section of its resource document to provide a guide to economic survival strategies. The document can be found here and includes a set of key principles and a suggested process for Fellows to undertake based on an Excel spreadsheet exercise of personal and business finances. In addition, the committee has provided suggestions to consider based on which of three specific scenarios they believe most accurately describes their financial situation.

  • May 21, 2020 8:26 AM | Jim Ireland

    May 21 Is National STOP THE BLEED® Day

    May 2020 marks the second annual National STOP THE BLEED® Month, and May 21, 2020, marks the third annual National STOP THE BLEED® Day. This year, these observances will highlight the importance of STOP THE BLEED® knowledge, particularly because so many people are staying home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Although STOP THE BLEED® classes are not currently being held due to COVID-19, it is still important for you to understand how to respond when a bleeding injury occurs. Traumatic injuries are known to spike during warmer months, and injuries can still occur, even when we’re at home. There may also be longer response times from emergency personnel due to a high number of COVID-19 patients. A person will have a better chance for survival if someone near them knows how to control serious bleeding.

    Knowing how to use your hands, or something from home such as a t-shirt or towel, to apply pressure to a bleeding wound, how to pack a wound to control bleeding, and how to correctly apply a tourniquet can empower you to save a life. With a public that is empowered to STOP THE BLEED®, we can help each other by recognizing life-threatening bleeding and knowing how to intervene to reduce a preventable death from injury.

    More Information

  • May 18, 2020 8:26 AM | Jim Ireland

    As many states have approved the resumption of elective surgery, we understand patients may have questions and specific uncertainties about the safety of undergoing elective operations in hospitals, regardless of whether COVID-19 patients are being concurrently treated in the same facility. 
    The patient-surgeon relationship is one that is built on transparency and trust. More than ever, patients are turning to their surgeons for advice and information that will help them feel more knowledgeable not just about their surgery, but having that surgery in a time when COVID-19 exists.
    To address this, we developed the American College of Surgeons Post-COVID-19 Readiness Checklist for Resuming Surgery. The intent of this checklist is to help surgeons ultimately communicate the important items patients want to know.
    In the coming days, the College will provide a tool kit of materials to help you communicate with patients regarding how they can safely return for surgery they need. We will continue to support our surgical community and patients as we return to surgical care.

  • May 12, 2020 10:59 AM | Jim Ireland

    The Southwestern Pennsylvania Chapter and the American College of Surgeons (ACS) are committed to providing members with the highest quality educational resources to support you in meeting your Continuing Medical Education (CME) requirements. Please visit the American College of Surgeons State CME Requirements page to review the Pennsylvania CME Requirements and to find relevant CME opportunities.

  • May 08, 2020 10:22 AM | Jim Ireland

    As the curve begins to flatten and hospitals and surgeons’ offices resume offering elective procedures, the COVID-19 Communications Committee has set its sights on new opportunities.

    The Bulletin: ACS COVID-19 Updates has served the community of health care providers well during the acute phase of this pandemic. Going forward, the Bulletin: ACS COVID-19 Updates will evolve to a new e-newsletter, Bulletin Brief. This new weekly communications vehicle will continue to provide updates on important advances the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and other stakeholders are making to assist you in providing optimal care for the duration of the pandemic, but also will include the latest information on other ACS activities and news.

    Bulletin Brief will replace this newsletter and the weekly ACS NewsScope that you traditionally have received on Thursday night. It will be distributed Tuesday nights and will combine all the elements of both newsletters in a reader-friendly and responsive format.

    Read the complete update here

  • April 17, 2020 10:50 AM | Jim Ireland

    New patient registry is also now available to all hospitals willing to capture meaningful data about their COVID-19 patients

    CHICAGO (April 17, 2020): Today, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) released a new surgical resource document, “Local Resumption of Elective Surgery Guidance,” as a guide for health care facilities preparing to resume elective surgery once the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has peaked in their area. 

    Health care facilities have been allocating their resources to care for critically ill COVID-19 patients since the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid ServicesACS, and other organizations issued a mid-March call to curtail elective procedures in the midst of the rising pandemic. Since then, elective operations have been postponed or canceled, and many facilities are now looking ahead to prepare to safely resume these procedures for patients whose medical conditions warrant surgical treatment.

    ACS recognizes that the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on local communities or facilities is a spectrum, and therefore suggests that facilities use the guidance document to ensure several pertinent issues have been considered before elective surgery begins.  It’s important for facilities to first check compliance with their state's executive orders and regulations as well.

    ACS offers a set of principles and issues to help local facilities plan for resumption of elective surgical care, and states in the document, “Understanding both the local facility capabilities (e.g. beds, testing, operating rooms) as well as potential constraints (e.g. workforce, supply chain), while keeping an eye on potential subsequent waves of COVID will continue to be important.”

    Ten distinct issues—in four categories—are presented in the document that need to be addressed at the local level before elective surgery may be resumed safely:

    1. COVID Awareness addresses knowing the community’s COVID numbers, including prevalence, incidence, and isolation mandates, and knowing COVID diagnostic testing availability and policies for patients and health care workers.
    2. Preparedness addresses personal protective equipment policies, health care facility capacity (beds, ICUs, vents) including expansion plans, adequate operating room supply chain/support areas, workforce staffing issues, and the role of a governance committee.
    3. Patient Issues addresses patient communication and prioritization of a protocol/plan.
    4. Delivery of Safe High-Quality Care addresses ensuring safe, high quality, high value care of the surgical patient across a continuum of Five Phases of Care.

    The guidance document is available for free download here.

    Although this document, “Local Resumption of Elective Surgery Guidance,” provides principles to help local facilities safely resume procedures after COVID-19 peaks locally, there is still much work to be done. While COVID-19 cases may have peaked in certain areas, the virus is still circulating and there is much we don’t know about the etiology and progression of the disease.

    To address this problem, the ACS has developed the ACS COVID-19 Registry, which is now available to all hospitals willing to capture meaningful data about the COVID-19 patients they treat. The ACS has a long history of developing and maintaining clinical data registries, including decades of experience with data collection and improving patient care. The overarching priority of the ACS COVID-19 Registry is to collect meaningful patient data for a disease that is largely unknown. More information can be found here.

    More information

  • April 09, 2020 11:08 AM | Jim Ireland


    The competition is open to all general surgery residents and surgical specialty residents. Medical students are not eligible. Having presented at the national level is not a disqualifier to submitting an abstract.

    Send two copies of each abstract to be presented (one blind copy with only the paper’s title for judging and one version with the principal author’s name, institution, phone, and e-mail address) to the SW PA Chapter Office by Friday, May 1st, 2020  The abstracts will be reviewed with a number being selected for presentation at the May 27th event.  Each selected presenter will be notified shortly thereafter. 

    Presentations will be judged by a panel of surgeons with cash prizes awarded to the top three “Most Interesting Cases.”  1st Place $500, 2nd Place $300, 3rd Place $200

    The “Most Interesting” case will be submitted for publication in the ACS Case Reviews in Surgery.

    The recently launched ACS Case Reviews in Surgery (ACS Case Reviews) publishes case reports in various surgical specialties six times a year. The content of each case report should be something of interest to practicing surgeons and describe experiences that may not be routinely seen or was treated in a unique fashion. Case reports that involve patients who have common surgical problems—where the clinical presentation and/or challenges of management produced knowledge and insights that have educational value—are also worthy of submission to ACS Case Reviews. Case reports will be reviewed with the understanding that the work has not been published by, and is not under consideration at, any other journal. All manuscripts are peer reviewed.

    As per submission guidelines, residents can submit to ACS Case Reviews if an ACS Fellow is included as one of the case report authors. Chapters would judge submitted entries and the winner of the competition would receive guaranteed review of the publication in ACS Case Reviews and a free one-year subscription to the journal (annual subscriptions are $125 with CME and $75 without CME).


    • The abstract should be no more than one page (approximately 500 words) and provide adequate information and objective data to evaluate the abstract properly.
    • The abstract should be submitted electronically, preferably as a Word document or PDF. It is permissible to single-space the abstract.
    • At the top of the first page, the full title of the abstract and full name of the principal author, with academic degrees, are to be stated.
    • At the bottom of the first page, a footnote should be included to provide the principal author’s mailing address, telephone number, and e-mail address. This contact information is very important.
    • A short video can be included as part of your submission
    • Abstracts not submitted in this manner will not be accepted

    The details of the May 27th Chapter meeting are still to be determined.  The event may be virtual depending upon the state of COVID-19.  Those whose abstracts are selected will be provided with details regarding the presentation of their abstract at the Chapter meeting.

    Abstracts are to be submitted to  Any questions, please contact Jim Ireland at 412/321-5030 or

    Download the guidelines

  • April 08, 2020 10:52 AM | Jim Ireland

    In anticipation that the COVID-19 crisis will continue to escalate throughout the U.S., Operation Giving Back has devised a plan to collect names of available volunteers, identify their skill sets, and map this information where it may be used for rendering medical assistance in areas of need. If you are willing to volunteer in any capacity, please take the COVID-19: How Can I Help? survey and we will contact you if your skill set(s) match the needs for potential opportunities. Do not hesitate to let us know areas of acute need that may arise in your area as well.

    As you may know, many states have recognized the need for additional aide and have called on volunteer health care professionals to serve in their communities during this unprecedented time. As a result, licenses have been expedited and temporarily reinstated, telehealth policies have loosened, and state volunteer portals have been created to streamline workforce reentry, to list a few. We encourage you to review ACS’s COVID-19 State Volunteer Resources page  to learn where you are able to implement your skill sets based on these temporary policy changes.

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