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