Cardiothoracic surgical organizations (“Societies/Associations”) play an important role in reaching out to health professionals, patients, and other groups. We guide biomedical research, discover new therapies, and engage in high quality surgical practice. We offer educational opportunities that help translate scientific and medical progress into the efficient delivery of effective medical care, develop resources that guide our members in advancing the standard of care, and provide a forum for presenting new skills and scientific developments.
For-profit entities that develop, produce, market or distribute drugs, devices, services or therapies used to diagnose, treat, monitor, manage, and alleviate cardiothoracic diseases, referred to in these Standards as “Companies,” also strive to help patients live longer and healthier lives. The Companies invest resources to bring new drugs and devices out of the laboratory and to the patient while maximizing value for shareholders.
Physicians and patients count on Societies/Associations to be authoritative, independent voices in the world of science and medicine, and we believe that public confidence in our objectivity is critical to carrying out our educational mission. We believe that our interactions with Companies must meet high ethical standards.
Societies/Associations’ interactions with Companies may include receiving charitable donations, applying for grants in support of programmatic activities, and conducting a range of business transactions. In all of these interactions, Societies/Associations are committed to acting with integrity.
These Standards embody the core principles of our profession, and are intended to benefit both our members and their patients, and to improve cardiothoracic surgical care. Many of the relations and activities encouraged or required by these Standards are already in place, and those that are not will be implemented within one year after adoption.
The following terms are defined for purposes of these Standards. The Society/Association recognizes that some of these terms may be used or defined differently by others. Some of these terms refer to types of interactions in which the Society/Association may engage with non-profit organizations and individuals as well as with Companies.
Advertising is a Business Transaction in which a Company pays a fee to the Society/Association in exchange for the Society/Association’s publication of a promotional announcement that highlights the Company or the Company’s products or services. For purposes of these Standards, Advertiser refers to a Company that purchases Advertising.
A Business Transaction is an interaction between the Society/Association and a Company in which a Company pays a fee to the Society/Association in exchange for the Society/Association’s item, service, or product. Examples of Business Transactions include Company payment of fees associated with subscriptions to Society/Association publications, Advertising in Society/Association publications, registrations for Society/Association meetings, and exhibit space rental.
A Charitable Contribution is a gift, including an in-kind gift, given by a Company to a qualified tax-exempt organization (e.g., the Society/Association or an affiliated organization) for use in furthering the organization’s charitable purposes and in accordance with applicable tax rules and legal standards.
A Clinical Practice Guideline is a systematically developed statement to assist practitioner and patient decisions about appropriate health care for specific clinical circumstances. As used in these Standards, the term Clinical Practice Guideline also refers to medical technology assessments, clinical opinions, and other evidence-based clinical practice tools, as well as updates to existing Clinical Practice Guidelines (“Guideline Updates”).
A Company is a for-profit entity that develops, produces, markets, or distributes drugs, devices, services or therapies used to diagnose, treat, monitor, manage, and alleviate health conditions. This definition is not intended to include non-profit entities, entities outside of the health care sector, or entities through which physicians provide clinical services directly to patients.
Continuing Medical Education (CME) consists of educational activities for which the attendee may receive CME credit (American Medical Association (AMA) Physician’s Recognition Award Credit, American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) Prescribed or Elective Credit, American Osteopathic Association (AOA) Credit – various categories) based on accreditation awarded to the provider by a recognized accrediting body (e.g., Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), AOA, AAFP). CME activities “serve to maintain, develop, or increase the knowledge, skills, and professional performance and relationships that a physician uses to provide services for patients, the public, or the profession. For purposes of these Standards, educational activities for physicians that are not CME-accredited are considered Non-CME Educational/Informational Programs.
A Corporate Sponsorship is an arrangement in which a Company, typically through its marketing department, provides monetary or in-kind support for a particular Society/Association product, service, or event, and is then acknowledged in connection with the product, service or event. Corporate Sponsorships are distinct from Educational Grants, and do not constitute Commercial Support of CME. For purposes of these Standards, Corporate Sponsor refers to a Company that provides a Corporate Sponsorship.
An Educational Grant is a sum awarded by a Company, typically through its grants office, for the specific purpose of supporting an educational or scientific activity offered by the Society/Association. Educational Grants awarded by a Company to support a CME activity are referred to in the ACCME Standards for Commercial Support as “Commercial Support” of CME. An Educational Grant may also be “in-kind.”
The Key Society/Association Leaders include all members of the Board of Directors (including the President, the President-Elect, Vice President, the Immediate Past President, Secretary, Treasurer, and all other members), the chief executive officer of the Society/Association’s membership organization, the Editor-in-Chief of the Society/Association’s journal, and others the Society/Association may designate.
A Non-CME Informational/Educational Program is a program offered by the Society/Association, Company or other third party that provides educational or promotional information and does not offer CME credit.
A Research Grant is an award that is given by the Society/Association to an individual, institution or practice to fund the conduct of scientific research. Companies may provide the Society/Association with programmatic support (e.g., an Educational Grant or Charitable Contribution) designated for the specific purpose of funding Research Grants.
A Satellite CME Symposium is a Company-supported CME program held as an adjunct to the Society/Association meeting where CME credit for the Symposium is provided by a third party CME provider, and for which the Society/Association receives a fee.
Society/Association CME refers to CME programs that are planned by the Society/Association and for which the Society/Association, as an accredited CME provider, provides CME credit.
The Society/Association journal is a peer-reviewed scientific journal published by the Society/Association or by a publisher on the Society/Association’s behalf.
1.1 The Society/Association develops all educational activities, scientific programs, products, services and advocacy positions independent of Company influence, and develops and adopts policies and procedures that foster independence.
1.2 The Society/Association separates its efforts to seek Educational Grants, Corporate Sponsorships, Charitable Contributions, and support for Research Grants from its programmatic decisions, assessing the availability of funds only after independently determining that a program is needed (e.g., to address gaps in care or knowledge).
1.3 The Society/Association has identified the high-level group responsible for guiding Society/Association interactions with Companies.
1.4 The Society/Association uses written agreements with Companies for Educational Grants, Corporate Sponsorships, Charitable Contributions, Business Transactions, and support of Research Grants. These agreements specify the purpose of the funds, the amount given, the term of the agreement, and the separate roles of the Company and the Society/Association. Such agreements show that a transaction is “arms length,” establish clear parameters for the use of funds, and affirm the independence of the Society/Association.
4.1 The Society/Association declines Corporate Sponsorship of an item or program if the item or program is inconsistent with the Society/Association’s strategic plan and mission.
4.2 The Society/Association does not place the names or logos of Companies or products on Society/Association-distributed “reminder” items (e.g., tote bags, lanyards, highlighters, notebooks, and luggage tags).
4.3 Corporate Sponsors of Society/Association data registries are not allowed to participate in the management of such registries in any way.
Amended by AATS Board of Directors, May 2017