Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Surrogate Surgery

Surrogate Surgery

It was announced today that a pilot program is commencing in Baltimore under provisions covered on page 2438 of the new Health Care Reform Act. It is anticipated that there will be considerable shortage of general surgeons in the years to come. Incomplete filling of residency rosters coupled with the aging population will lead to a deficit of over ten thousand general surgeons over the next twenty years.

This deficit is expected to hit hardest in rural areas, but many urban areas are already experiencing many weeks without adequate emergency and, at times, even elective coverage for many specialties, but particularly in the very important area of general surgery.

This section of the Health Care Act provides for coverage by health care providers that act as surrogates for the traditional physician or surgeon. Nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurse midwives and similar health care providers all are anticipated to play vital roles insuring that quality healthcare is delivered to many underserved areas.

The new program, called the Simian Surrogate Program or SSP, is undertaking the task of training apes to perform many of the operations now performed by general surgeons. Specifically, chimpanzees and orangutans are currently undergoing intense education in surgical technique and decision making at the Halsted Memorial Training Center at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Program director Dr. William Roundtree’s comments, “The use of simian surrogates to perform many of the more common operations will fill a tremendous gap in the delivery of quality surgical care that was anticipated to arise over the next few years. The retirement of the huge baby boom generation threatens to put an untenable strain on the available resources. The use of chimpanzees and orangutans has, thus far, yielded outstanding results. The program is proving a point I’ve made for years. The many residents that have passed through these hallowed halls are no better than monkees.”

Dr. Roundtree went on to explain that originally the plan was to train baboons to provide surgical care, but it was soon discovered that all the available baboons were tied up in a sister pilot program where they were being trained to become Senators and Representatives.

The first simian surgeons are expected to complete their training in 2013, coinciding with the introduction of the first health care reforms. When asked if there was to be any role for gorillas, Dr. Roundtree remarked, “Gorillas haven’t shown much aptitude for general surgery, but we are looking into training them to do orthopedics.”

News of this new pilot program sent the value of Chiquita stock soaring in after hours trading today.