The American Association for Thoracic Surgery believes that the interests of the specialty and its practitioners are best-served when the volunteer leadership (to wit: Officers; Councilors; Committee Chairs and Members; and senior staff (collectively, the “AATS Leaders”) disclose the existence and nature of any relationships which might influence, or appear to influence, their actions. Therefore, it is the policy of the Association to require disclosure from all AATS Leaders as to their financial or other relationships1 that may pose conflicts of interest2.
Further, it is the policy of the Association that each AATS Leader will refrain from voting on or influencing any matter that involves the relationship giving rise to the AATS Leader’s disclosure, provided that the Chair may call for a closed ballot on any such matter. The Council may waive this requirement in special circumstances (e.g., if implementation of this requirement would render the AATS body unable to act effectively).
In order to effectuate the foregoing policy, the Association hereby adopts the following guidelines:
- At the time of appointment or election, and on an annual basis thereafter, the Association’s Executive Director will disseminate to all AATS Leaders the Disclosure Policy and Guidelines form for completion and return in a timely fashion. Failure to complete and return such forms in a timely fashion shall result in the removal of that individual from his or her position of responsibility within the AATS.
- Completed Disclosure Forms will be maintained in the files at AATS headquarters, and will be deemed confidential. They will be shared only with the Association’s Council, appropriate Committee chairs, legal counsel and others as necessary and appropriate.
- At the beginning of every AATS Council, Committee and Task Force meeting, the statement attached hereto as Exhibit B will be read.
- The recusal of any AATS Leader from the discussion and/or a vote will be noted in the minutes of the meeting.
- The responsibility for both disclosure and the initial determination as to whether recusal from discussion and/or a vote is in order rests with the individual AATS Leader. Questions regarding the necessity of disclosure and/or recusal should be directed to the Chair of the body on which the individual serves as an AATS Leader, but responsibility for these decisions remains with the individual AATS Leader (not the Chair).
- Violations of the foregoing will be reported to the Association’s Ethics Committee, and may be grounds for disciplinary action under the Association’s By-Laws.
- The AATS Council will implement and enforce the foregoing policy.
Adopted by the AATS Council on May 6, 2007.
1 Including (1) a financial interest of $10,000 or more (e.g., through ownership of stock, stock options, or bonds), (2) the receipt of $10,000 or more in cash, goods or services within the current 12-month period (e.g., through research grants, employment, consulting fees, royalties, travel or gifts), or (3) a non-remunerative position of influence (e.g., as an officer, director, trustee or public spokesperson). Excluded from such required disclosures are financial relationships that involve blind trusts and other passive investment vehicles such as mutual funds. (Blind Trusts shall be a trust that retains the settlor’s rights to terminate the trust, but which relinquishes all power over the trust’s management; i.e. the beneficiaries do not have knowledge of the trust’s specific assets, and in which a fiduciary third party has complete management discretion.)
2 Including any relationship between the individual AATS Leader (or known relationships of his or her immediate family, department and partners) and any healthcare-related business or other entity whose products or services are likely to be discussed by (or, as in the case of competing products or services, are likely to be affected in the marketplace directly by) the body(ies) on which the individual serves as a AATS leader.