Society for Vascular Surgery Responds to New York Times Article on Overuse of Interventions in Vascular Surgery

Jul 31, 2023

Rosemont, IL - The Society for Vascular Surgery (SVS), the leading medical organization dedicated to advancing quality in vascular health care, has issued a response to a recent New York Times article detailing allegations of overuse of interventions to treat patients with peripheral vascular disease. SVS sent a strong message that it is inaccurate and a disservice to patients to paint all providers treating vascular patients with the same broad brush. There are important differences all patients and health reporters should know:

An estimated 10-12 million Americans have peripheral artery disease. Left untreated, vascular disease can affect quality of life and potentially threaten patients’ limbs and lives — as can delayed care due to lack of education, financial barriers, or mistrust of qualified physicians. The actions of a few outliers, while important to address, must not tarnish the reputation of the 98% of physicians that are providing excellent patient care.

As in all professions, there are health care providers practicing outside the norms established by evidence-based guidelines. SVS is dedicated to addressing this issue through high-quality science, education, and policy. The individuals described in the Times’ investigation are not board-certified vascular surgeons or SVS members. Creating the impression that all providers of vascular care are the same is a disservice to patients seeking credible and reliable information to make good health care decisions.

Vascular surgeons are defined and certified by rigorous national standards ( ABMS ABS definition and ACGME specialties ) as the primary specialty trained to provide comprehensive care across the full spectrum of vascular disease states.  While vascular care may often be team-based, vascular surgeons are irreplaceable on such teams because of their depth of understanding of the entire spectrum of vascular disease and its wide range of treatment options, including the full range of medical management, non-operative options, minimally invasive endovascular therapy (angioplasty, stents) and major surgical reconstructions.

SVS also emphasizes that while individual providers are responsible and accountable for the care of their patients, efforts to better align health and medico-economic policies to drive, reinforce, and incentivize appropriate care are long overdue.   

"We stand against the inappropriate use of interventions and appreciate the Times’ efforts to raise patient awareness, promote quality and advocate for safety in the delivery of vascular care,” says Dr. Joseph Mills, SVS President. “The Society for Vascular Surgery’s mission and code of ethics is rooted in prioritizing patient wellbeing, ensuring the best outcomes for those under our care. No procedure should be recommended or performed if not primarily and solely for a patient’s benefit and best interests – period.”

SVS members place a strong emphasis on medical therapy and lifestyle changes for patients. This approach aligns with the SVS mission to educate individuals to seek care early and prioritize lifestyle and nonsurgical interventions. Building trusting relationships between patients and their doctors, along with regular visits, plays a crucial role in achieving best outcomes.

SVS members prioritize adherence to best practices and evidence-based guidelines to ensure the delivery of optimal patient care. In fact, SVS established its Patient Safety Organization to monitor outcomes of patient care with Vascular Quality Initiative registries, and – in collaboration with the American College of Surgeons – recently launched its Vascular Verification Program, setting standards of quality across vascular care, regardless of site of service.

SVS agrees industry-wide reform is needed and urges action, with Dr. Mills saying: “It’s incumbent upon the entire health care system to address underlying health care policy drivers contributing to inappropriate use.” The Society for Vascular Surgery always emphasizes quality and safety in patient care and is fully committed to tackling these issues and promoting best practices through scientific research, guidelines and patient registries.

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About the Society for Vascular Surgery:

The Society for Vascular Surgery (SVS) seeks to advance excellence and innovation in vascular health through education, advocacy, research and public awareness. The organization was founded in 1946 and has a membership of more than 6,300. SVS membership is recognized in the vascular community as a mark of professional achievement.

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