ACS President Resigns Over Controversial Editorial
By Emily P. Walker
April 18, 2011
The president-elect of the American College of Surgeons has resigned in light of backlash over an editorial he penned on the mood-enhancing effects semen has on women,
The ACS announced the resignation of Lazar Greenfield, MD, in an email sent to its members on Sunday.
In the article, Greenfield, an emeritus professor of surgery at the University of Michigan, cited research from the Archives of Sexual Behavior and wrote, "Female college students having unprotected sex were significantly less depressed than were those whose partners used condoms."
The article offended many in the surgeons' group, and some said it was sexist and perpetuates the boys club mentality of surgery.
Greenfield expressed his "deep regret" and then his resignation to the group's Board of Regents, which met Sunday to consider the status of the 78-year-old surgeon.
Writing in the Valentine's Day editorial, which was published in Surgery News -- and has since been retracted -- Greenfield discussed research that suggests semen includes mood enhancers including oxytocin and serotonin (and a sleep enhancer, melatonin).
He concluded: "So there's a deeper bond between men and women than St. Valentine would have suspected, and now we know there's a better gift for that day than chocolates."
The ACS received "numerous communications from the surgical community about the editorial," wrote the group's president, L. D. Britt, MD, along with Carlos Pellegrini, MD, chairman of the Board of Regents, and David Hoyt, MD, executive director.
At least one female ACS member, Colleen Brophy, MD, a professor of surgery at Vanderbilt University, resigned from the ACS over the editorial.
Writing in a letter to the Board, Brophy said the editorial is "just a symptom of a bigger issue," and that that college needs to be more transparent in choosing its leaders and conducting business.
"The fact that Dr. Greenfield apologized for me, for my 'taking offense' to his op ed without any insight into the implications that a physician leader advocated for unprotected sex, disturbs me," she wrote.
In a brief email to MedPage Today, Greenfield dismissed the claim that his editorial pointed to a larger sexist culture in surgery.
ACS officials acknowledged the contributions of Greenfield, including his invention of the "Greenfield Filter" a device placed in the inferior vena cava of patients who are particularly vulnerable to pulmonary embolism, to prevent venous emboli from entering the pulmonary circulation.
"We wish to honor Dr. Greenfield and celebrate his inestimable contributions to the College and the surgical community," the ACS officials wrote. "We also know that at this critical juncture for surgery and health care in America, it is important that the American College of Surgeons not be distracted by any issues that would diminish its focus on improving care of the surgical patient."
The group announced it would appoint a woman, Patricia Numann, MD, a retired surgeon from SUNY Upstate Medical Center, as the next president-elect...