Is the American College of Surgeons Turning Patients’ Care Over to a Bunch of Social Justice Warriors?

Is the American College of Surgeons Turning Patients’ Care Over to a Bunch of Social Justice Warriors?
Is the American College of Surgeons Turning Patients’ Care Over to a Bunch of Social Justice Warriors?

The acronym DEI is on the radar of many organizations that wish to appease activists seeking to enforce their demands for “diversity, equity and inclusion.” To object, even in the most scholarly terms, is tantamount to bearing a sign proclaiming, “I am a bigot!” One such organization seeking to adopt the woke agenda is the American College of Surgeons (ACS).

Dr. Richard Bosshardt is a long-time ACS member. According to his online biography, he has practiced as a plastic surgeon in Lake County, Florida—near Orlando—since 1989. He has participated in medical missions in the Philippines, Guatemala, Peru, Brazil, Venezuela, the West Bank and Mexico. His score on the physician=rating service “healthgrades” is four out of five.

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He is also a public critic of the ACS’s DEI agenda, whose critiques have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, City Journal and National Review. Fox News has also covered the story.

All Aboard the DEI Railroad

The ACS is quite proud of its DEI efforts. Its online archives state that it began with an International Committee in 1939 and the establishment of the Committee on the Relation of the Colored Surgeon to the American College of Surgeons in 1945. However, those are the only two actions it claims took place well before the twenty-first century. The College released its current Statement on Diversity, with a focus on increased recruitment of members from racial minorities in 2018.

“The ACS … recognizes that specific recruitment and development of Fellows from diverse and underrepresented groups is essential to enhancing the strength of the ACS. The ACS underscores this commitment to diversity by ensuring that meaningful positions of leadership are held by Fellows from all constituent groups.”

In the summer of 2020, it established a Task Force on Racism.

Tools Without a Problem

While there is nothing objectionable in increasing the participation of surgeons from various ethnic groups, the implication that patient care depends on belonging to the same racial group as the doctor is problematic. However, such assumptions lie at the root of the ACS approach to DEI. Searching for any definitive list of its concerns, never mind proof that problems exist, is an exercise in futility. For instance, consider this language announcing the ACS’s new “DEI Toolkit.

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The presence of a tool implies a problem. For instance, one pulls out a screwdriver and screws when two pieces of wood need to be attached. The ACS, however, appears unable or unwilling to describe the problem. Instead, it implies that the problem is self-evident and its members need the intellectual tools to repair it.

An “Explanation” that Fails To Explain

“We understand that because of the challenging nature of the content for those who are working in the DEI space, it is important to align messaging and leverage the collective experiences in presenting best practices, such that through shared work, peer mentoring, and collaboration, the House of Surgery could benefit.”

A few paragraphs down, the ACS attempts to clarify its reasons. Unfortunately, that attempt merely produced more of the same incomprehensible word salad.

“The Toolkit is intended to be a comprehensive resource for our learners, including students and residents in surgery, and for Fellows of the College, particularly for leaders in surgery, such as vice-chairs of DEI and other faculty or community surgeons that are primarily responsible for making the decisions to move any equity strategy forward.”

Rounding Up the Usual Suspects

What is the ACS trying to accomplish? What is an “equity strategy?” Who is it supposed to help? How has its absence hurt anyone? Could the damage be repaired? The questions are evident, but the answers are few.

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While the toolkit itself is locked away for the exclusive use of ACS members, the organization provided an Antiracism Lexicon open to the public that is “designed to serve as a practical resource for ACS members, staff, and others who engage with any aspect of DEI and antiracism (DEI&A) in surgical and healthcare settings.”

The lexicon’s entries include the panoply of the woke agenda’s targets: ableism, ageism, anti-Semitism, colorism, racism, sexism and tokenism. Other entries describe groups the ACS task force believes need their protection: African American, Asian American, bisexual, black, Gay, Gender Identity, Hispanic/Latino/Latina, Homosexual, LGBTQIA+, Multiracial/Biracial, Native American, Neurodiversity, Sexual Orientation, Transgender and those who are “Underrepresented in Medicine.”

Unknown and Unknowable

The key that unlocks the ACS’s woke agenda may be found in the lexicon’s definition of “bias,” which begins simply: “a preference or inclination that is often prejudiced towards or against one group over another and leads to unreasoned judgment.”

However, the language becomes increasingly speculative and talismanic in discussing a fundamental tenet of Critical Race Theory, namely, implicit or unconscious bias. These are “attitudes and beliefs influenced by associations and judgments that occur outside of a person’s conscious awareness. These biases often activate involuntarily and without the person being aware or intentionally controlling the impact of the bias.” The definition then leaps into unknown and unknowable territory. “Research indicates unconscious biases may be contrary to a person’s expressed commitments and produce behaviors divergent from the person’s stated values.”

Lies and Delusions

There is no proof that such unconscious biases exist or are pervasive, much less that people’s actions are based upon the biases that they deny having, the woke propagandists’ unsubstantiated and self-serving claims notwithstanding.

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There are only two possible words to describe such people. One is “deluded,” and the other is “liar.” So, who is deluded and who is lying—and why is the ACS getting involved in this?

If a doctor’s patients are lying, they need moral direction. If they are deluded, they need a psychiatrist, not a surgeon.

Accusing Their Members

When the ACS asserts that this unquantified damage happens because of race, the implied culprits must be the surgeons. Rather than antagonize its members with such biased claims, it employs the incomprehensible language of the woke lectionary.

As noted, Dr. Bosshardt saw through its subterfuge and the DEI delusion that underlies it. Even worse, from the ACS leadership’s perspective, he dared to share his insights with fellow members. He describes the result in the City Journal article.

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“Along with several other [ACS] fellows, I viewed these changes with alarm. To us, it seemed that the ACS was prioritizing DEI at the expense of excellence and meritocracy…. And the claims that white surgeons were racist and that racism infused our specialty were repugnant to us.”

Censoring Their Critics

He took his concerns to an ACS online open forum, where his supporters outnumbered opponents two to one. The ACS then banned him for life from its forums for “continuous disrespectful language and placement of non-clinical posts in the General Surgery community.” Dr. Bosshardt then took his story to the public media.

His principal concern was clearly stated in The Wall Street Journal. “Surgery is a discipline that demands excellence in all its stages, from training to practice. Should diversity supplant quality in surgeon performance, patient care would suffer.”

Dr. Bosshardt concludes, “These are the actions of ideologues intent on radicalizing the surgical field instead of improving care. Surgeons can’t let that happen. The only way to reverse it is for surgeons to speak out against the corruption of our profession. The ACS must choose between surgery and ideology. Whatever the choice may be, my colleagues and I will fight for the good of our patients.”

Endangering Their Patients

When patients lie on an operating table, their lives are in the hands of the surgeon. Usually, the relationship is one of short duration. They seldom meet often enough for the patients to make an accurate evaluation of the surgeon’s character or skills. Other than the doctor’s personality and reputation, the patients’ only tools are the certificates on the wall—diplomas, licenses, and membership in professional organizations like the American College of Surgeons. If ideologues replace the excellence these credentials represent with woke DEI delusions, patients will be endangered, and some may die. It is just that simple—and that critical.

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