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Ethics and Conflict of Interest Committee

Chair Kathleen M. Akgun, MD, MS, ATSF West Haven, CT
Vice Chair Leonard Sicilian, MD Boston, MA
Vice Chair Sarah Beesley, MD, MSc Salt Lake City, UT
Committee Member Alison E. Turnbull, DVM, MPH, PhD Baltimore, MD
Committee Member Andrej Michalsen, MD, MPH Ueberlingen, Germany, Germany
Committee Member Elizabeth Sonntag, MD Richmond, VA
Committee Member Erin S. Demartino, MD Rochester, MN
Committee Member - CCR Representative Jag Sunderram, MD, ATSF New Brunswick, NJ
Committee Member James K. O'Brien, MD Denver, CO
Committee Member Margaret A. Carno, PhD, MBA, RN, CPNP, ATSF Rochester, NY
Committee Member Rohan A. Thompson, MD Columbus, OH
Committee Member William J. Ehlenbach, MSc, MD Madison, WI
Staff Shane Mcdermott New York, NY
Staff John Harmon New York, NY
Staff Kimberly Lawrence New York, NY

The Ethics and Conflict of Interest Committee recommends to the Board policies for addressing biomedical ethical issues as well as organizational ethical issues, including conflicts of interest. Its goal is to ensure that the ATS is ethical in conduct and effective in advocacy on ethical issues important to the patients we serve. The Committee monitors relevant policies of other societies and reviews recommendations from healthcare experts, ethicists, and other resources to maintain the professional standing and integrity of the Society in all of its affairs. In addition, it serves as a resource to review issues of ethics and conflict of interest for the ATS and advises the ATS President, Executive Committee, assemblies and other relevant committees on rapidly emerging issues related to biomedical and organizational ethics, including conflict of interest.

Benchmarks, 2020-2021:

Improve ATS resources for members on issues of ethical interest in pulmonary medicine, critical care, and sleep medicine, by:
 Improving the visibility, utility, and breadth of ATS website content of value in managing clinical and research ethics;
 Expanding the Committee’s use of podcasting and social media (e.g., increase from 4 podcasts in 2017-18 to 6 in 2019-20); aim for regularly recurring podcast, scheduled on regular basis to improve their use and accessibility by ATS membership;
 Increasing the number of International Conference sessions that include education and dialogue on applied ethics, with particular attention to programs for residents and fellows;
 Explore how best to leverage ATS resources to enhance research ethics training (RCR) at annual conference;
 Submit at least one Sunrise Seminar and at least one Meet the Professor on Ethical issues for ATS 2021 programming;
 Assisting one or more ATS journals in initiating a regular series of case discussions on relevant ethical issues;
 Increasing the Committee’s utilization as a resource by ATS assemblies, committees, and chapters.

Improve the utilization and availability of ATS guidelines and statements that address biomedical ethics issues, by:
 Developing case studies on the application of at least two of the four existing statements.
 Regularly assessing and prioritizing needs for updating and developing relevant statements, with special attention to end of life care, advance care planning, critical care triage and utilization, and involvement of patients or patient advocates.
 New statements: 1) explore development of a statement on critical care in times of paucity and times of plenty; 2) family involvement in ICU;
 Collaborate with Publications Committee to measures implementation and dissemination of existing statements

Oversee and improve implementation of ATS policies and procedures for managing conflicts of interest (COI), including:
 Implementation of the new ATS platform for COI disclosure and review, with special attention to its utility in management of COI by persons in control of specific ATS activities;
 Development of “case law” and case studies that summarize the application of policies to specific situations;
 Collaboration with the Education Committee to maintain compliance with ACCME re-accreditation and maintenance of certification;
 Assessment of the impact of COI disclosure and management on perceptions of bias resulting from ATS presenters’ and authors’ commercial relationships and other declared interests.

 Implement and assess the role of the Committee in the investigation and adjudication of matters of professionalism and ethical conduct in ATS activities, including matters related to sexual harassment, where assigned to the Committee by ATS policies and committee charges.

 In collaboration with the Tobacco Action Committee and the Assembly on Environmental, Occupational and Public Health establish a working group charged with the creation of a COI policy specifically requiring reporting of any relationship to the cannabis industry.