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New ruling prohibits would-be ACEP leaders from answering questions from non-ACEP publications.

gag-order-main

Greg Henry seldom fails to deliver on a promise. But this time, it looks like it’s out of his control. Earlier this year in the pages of Emergency Physicians Monthly, Dr. Henry outlined what he saw as some of the most important issues confronting our specialty to be addressed by our
representatives on the ACEP Council. In his column he promised to conduct objective, but pointed interviews with each Council candidate so that the membership could hear their views on these important issues.

Dr. Henry seemed the perfect person to conduct these interviews. As a Past President of ACEP and one of the most active members in the College, he was fully aware of the challenges facing our specialty at the Council level. EPM was in the process of setting up webinars so that the membership could hear the candidates full and unedited responses to Dr. Henry’s questions.

As we began to approach candidates, however, the response was troubling. We learned that ACEP had recently passed a resolution prohibiting Council candidates from such interviews. The prohibition, agreed upon by the ACEP steering committee, reads as follows: “Communications and/or interviews regarding candidacy in emergency medicine newsletters or publications other than those published by ACEP are prohibited.”

We contacted ACEP in order to get clarification on this ruling, but they declined to respond. Whether this gag order came as a response to Dr. Henry’s pending interviews doesn’t really matter. What matters is the message that ACEP has sent – that it wants a carefully scripted message to be fed to the membership through its controlled news venues, rather than through a third party, objective, source. I think this is ill advised and should fuel concerns among the ACEP membership. There are important questions that our representatives will be addressing in the coming years. And it is important that the right people are in the right positions in order to meet these challenges.

Emergency Physicians Monthly has always been the independent voice of emergency physicians. ACEP has nothing to fear from an independent press, and everything to lose from cutting themselves off from critique. In the words of William Brennen, Jr., former Associate Supreme Court Justice, “[D]ebate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open...”

Take the gag out of the mouths of the ACEP Council candidates. In particular, let president-elect candidates Jay Kaplan, Robert O’Connor and Rebecca Parker speak openly about where they would move our specialty should they take office.

Mark Plaster, MD, is the 
Founder and Executive Editor of Emergency Physicians MonthlySend your comments and feedback on this issue to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Comments   

# RE: ACEP Puts a Gag on Council CandidatesERDOC1 2014-06-23 21:15
"What matters is the message that ACEP has sent – that it wants a carefully scripted message to be fed to the membership through its controlled news venues, rather than through a third party, objective, source."

I am astounded that, after all these years of consistent behavior, ANYONE is surprised to see this from ACEP -- especially since its leadership is still riddled with middle and upper managers and owners of ED staffing corporations.
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# RE: ACEP Puts a Gag on Council CandidatesKeith Raymond, MD 2014-06-25 14:26
Another attack on freedom of speech. When Generals are fired, DJs are silenced, and whistle blowers are sanctioned for criticizing the status quo we are heading into dangerous times. Science and medicine are based fundamentally on questioning what others accept as true. When inquiry is quashed belief replaces verifiable proof and we return to the Dark Ages. Complaining and acknowledging is not useful, we must agree to behave badly and face the consequences or be silenced forever.
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# MD FACEPLaura Pimentel 2014-06-25 14:36
This is very disturbing to say the least. I hope that ACEP is not returning to the ugly days described in "The Rape of Emergency Medicine" when a small but powerful oligarchy from large national groups tried to use ACEP for its own enrichment.

For those who were not around in those days, ACEP was torn apart and AAEM was born. AAEM has continued to function as an alternative voice for the residency trained and board certified EM physician. Though I personally have not been an AAEM member for the past few years, this turn of events may change that.

With Dr. Plaster, I call for free speech and the removal of the gag order placed on ACEP Council candidates.
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# M.D.S.V.Canchola 2014-06-25 15:18
Elected officials should be free to speak. They were elected because we believe in them, or are they employees of a privately owned corporation and will be censored and told what to say. What happened to freedom of speech?
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# MDWilliam M. Hilty 2014-06-25 16:37
I agree, undo the gag order.
Let's hear independent views and issues!
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# Professor Emerita, EM, UICMary Ann Cooper, MD 2014-06-25 16:55
I always supported ACEP (even as a councilor for many years) but this attitude is one of the reasons I quit ACEP a few years ago - also that I could get better value for the $1000 +/- in dues better somewhere else.
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# RE: ACEP Puts a Gag on Council CandidatesJohn Dale Dunn MD JD 2014-06-25 17:21
My my, and what would ACEP propose is the reason for the restriction of free speech?

How you gonna keep em down on the farm (or plantation)afte r they've seen the constitution and the bill of rights?

The ACEP record on promoting socialism and statism is consistent with intolerant censorship. No big surprise here, move on.

George Orwell is watching.
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# MDMichael Siclari 2014-06-25 23:57
I agree 100% with your comments. This is disappointing news from ACEP in my opinion. I feel that Dr. Henry's ideas are well worth exploring.
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# Past President ACEPLarry A. Bedard, MD 2014-06-26 00:36
Mark,

Frankly, I think the ACEP steering committee's position is outrageous. The primary role and responsibility of the ACEP President is to be a spokesperson for the college. In this role they need to be able to speak to all groups both friends and foes of emergency medicine and ACEP. As a Council member I think it would be very helpful in deciding who to vote for based on how they respond to tough questions.
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# FACEPMickey M. Kolodny MD 2014-06-26 06:13
I have been a member of ACEP x 30 years. If this is true I may not renew.
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# RE: ACEP Puts a Gag on Council CandidatesLinda Bobrik 2014-06-26 21:47
Not just yes, but hell yes! Let Greg Henry speak. Where are the guts of this organization?
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# RE: ACEP Puts a Gag on Council CandidatesShay Bintliff, MD, 2014-06-27 16:31
If we do not let them speak, how will we know which one has
'foot-in-mouth' disease!!!!
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# RE: ACEP Puts a Gag on Council CandidatesRoger S. Perry, M.D 2014-06-28 00:55
I don't think I should have uninformed opinions! Therefore, I wish to have more information on this seemingly anti-intellectu al decision by ACEP. I would like the President of ACEP explain to us, the members of ACEP, the rational for this policy.

Roger S. Perry, M.D., Ph.D. FACEP
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# RE: ACEP Puts a Gag on Council CandidatesObi Wan Kenobi 2014-06-29 11:20
"Who's the more foolish, the fool, or the fool who follows him?"

www.faaem.org
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# RE: ACEP Puts a Gag on Council CandidatesC. Kennedy, MD FACEP 2014-06-30 19:13
This is unconscionable behavior. What is ACEP leadership hiding? I'm ashamed.
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# RE: ACEP Puts a Gag on Council CandidatesVicken Totten 2014-07-06 19:19
I thought ACEP was growing up into a more responsive organization since the days when we had to form a separate organization away from the "good ol' boys" but I guess not.
I am ashamed. I will not renew.
How many of us are writing our opinions to ACEP under our own names? Mark, are you sending in our cmments?
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# MD JD FACEP Past Council Speaker ACEPLouise B Andrew 2014-07-08 16:52
What is disturbing is not so much the newly enacted Steering Committee policy (which might have a well founded rationale), but the sentence "We contacted ACEP in order to get clarification on this ruling, but they declined to respond."

I think it would behoove EPM to have your editor ask your former editor, now Speaker of Council and therefore chair of the ACEP Steering Committee, to provide an explanation. I don't think he would shrink from this reasonable request.
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# MD JD FACEP Past Council Speaker ACEPLouise B Andrew 2014-07-09 01:11
The most disturbing line in this article is "We contacted ACEP in order to get clarification on this ruling, but 'they' declined to respond.".

There are some quite reasonable possible explanations for this policy, but they should be made explicit. Over the years most Steering Committee campaign rules have had their origin in fairness considerations, for example, the decision that chapters could not sponsor lavish receptions in favor of their candidate, to the detriment of others (AMA and medical associations based on their model still often allow this).

I would strongly suggest that the editor of EPM formally ask the previous editor of EPM, now ACEP Council Speaker and therefore chair of the Steering Committee that promulgated this policy to address this issue publicly. I don't believe he would shrink from this request.

You could also ask him to define the current makeup of ACEP leadership for EPM readers. The oligarchs, I believe, are mostly dinosaurs.

Btw, not and never was an oligarch, no longer in ACEP Leadership, friend to many of the above and no apologist; but always seeking to understand.
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