Petitioning ACOG to Change the Standards of Care for Endometriosis Patients

The members of the endometriosis community are challenging The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) with a new petition to change the standards of care for endometriosis patients. Delays in diagnosis, ineffective and partial treatments of the disease, and a failure to update coding to include excision techniques, create unnecessary suffering for patients.

In his March 2017 article, ACOG’s Tom Gellhaus, MD said:

“Up to 63% of general practitioners feel uncomfortable diagnosing and treating patients with endometriosis. And as many as half are unfamiliar with the three main symptoms of the disease.”

This is a systemic problem.

Are drug companies financing ACOG?

Dr. Tamer Seckin has been an outspoken advocate for patients when it comes to changing the standards of care for endometriosis. He feels that part of the issue is that drugs companies are financing ACOG. ACOG admits on their website:

“Developers and manufacturers of pharmaceutical agents and medical devices assist physicians in the pursuit of their educational goals and objectives through the financial support of various medical, research, and educational programs”.

They go on to say that physicians have a primary responsibility to act as protectors of the interests of their patients. As many practitioners push palliative hormone treatments over excision surgery, the question is “why”? Do pharmaceutical interests outweigh the best interest of endometriosis patients?

“ACOG very much focuses on obstetrics. They focus much less on preparing practitioners to do minimally invasive gynecologic surgery, never mind supporting the extensive training needed to perform endometriosis excision surgery. It is important to focus on training doctors to provide early diagnosis and advocating complete excision of the disease that they then send to pathology for verification,” says Dr. Seckin, the co-founder of the Endometriosis Foundation of America.

A call for change

Patients, advocates, and surgical experts are calling for change. They hope that ACOG can make further improvements to ensure that endometriosis patients can receive the minimally invasive treatment that they need and deserve.

Dr. Seckin remembers a time when leaders in ACOG considered laparoscopic surgery too experimental. While that has since changed, it wasn’t easy. In an article dating back to 2008, former SLS President William Kelley Jr., MD, wrote:

“Authoritative institutions must be convinced of the safety and efficacy of the changes relative to the comfortable status quo. Momentum always favors inertia. Fears must be overcome. Fear of making mistakes, fear of failure, fear of established procedures becoming obsolete, and fear of established authorities losing control. Successful change requires timing and a force more powerful than the status quo.”

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