Alicia Ault

May 09, 2016

WASHINGTON, DC — With Zika reported in 35 countries and territories and marching northward, clinicians need to know how to manage the virus and minimize the long-term consequences.

Although the program for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) 2016 Annual Clinical Meeting is generally set almost a year in advance, a late-breaking session on the Zika virus has been added to the agenda of the upcoming meeting.

"The horse is out of the barn," said Sharon Phelan, MD, from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, who is chair of the scientific program committee. The session will cover exposure and infection risks, how to test for the virus, and how to counsel patients.

Debates on hot topics are expected to be a big draw at the meeting. The first debate — on the role of flibanserin in the treatment of hypoactive sexual desire disorder — will pit critic Adriane Fugh-Berman, MD, from Georgetown University in Washington, DC, and director of the university's PharmedOut project, against Holly Louise Thacker, MD, director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Specialized Women's Health.

Dr Fugh-Berman will also discuss flibanserin during a Lunch With the Experts session.

Dr Phelan said she is looking forward to all of the debates, including the one on flibanserin. "I personally believe that was a political approval," she told Medscape Medical News.

HPV Screening

Among the other debates, which will include discussion of pivotal trial results, will be HPV Screening: Is It Ready to Replace the Pap?

Dr Sharon Phelan

The HPV screening issue is particularly interesting "to an old-timer like me, who's used to the Pap smear being the thing that got the patient in every year," Dr Phelan added. "The idea that the Pap smear may actually even go away is just amazing to me."

These days, typical obstetric and gynecologic visits are "not centered so much on the Pap smear"; the focus has become more about issues outside the traditional scope of practice, such as exercise, obesity, smoking cessation, and depression, Dr Phelan explained.

This "centering of care" around all of the patient's needs — including social, medical, and family — will also be highlighted at the meeting, said Sandra Ann Carson, MD, vice president of education for ACOG. The concept may be novel to many clinicians because it is relatively new, she explained.

The idea that the Pap smear may actually even go away is just amazing to me.

The implementation of centering prenatal care will be discussed at the meeting by Julie Zemaitis DeCesare, MD, from Florida State University in Pensacola, and Dikea Roussos-Ross, MD, from the University of Florida Health in Gainesville.

With four full meeting days and more than 500 posters, just about every possible topic related to obstetrics and gynecology will be covered, including factors underlying postpartum readmissions, home births, a prenatal care model that involves fewer office visits, egg freezing, hereditary cancers, the comeback of vaginal hysterectomy, fetal surgery, and medical marijuana.

The President's Program will include talks on social media, trafficking and misogyny, and the history and legislative process involved in getting the US Postal Service to issue the breast cancer research stamp. Dr Phelan said the talk on physician wellness, by Tieraona Low Dog, MD, a Native American physician and director of the Interprofessional Fellowship in Integrative Health and Medicine, is on her list of must-sees.

Dr Sandra Ann Carson

The timely issue of transgender care will be addressed at a Lunch With the Experts session. In this case, the expert is Cecile Unger, MD, a female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery specialist at the Cleveland Clinic who is an advocate for transgender care. Sessions on the topic at previous ACOG meetings have had surprisingly low attendance, Dr Carson reported.

Interactivity will be an integral part of the meeting. In addition to real-time voting during the debates, the 5000 or so expected attendees will have the opportunity to talk to four icons in the field of obstetrics and gynecology during ACOG Hall of Fame sessions: Norman Gant, Jay Iams, Irwin Merkatz, and John Queenan.

And those who signed up in advance to participate in a Flip Classroom session will experience a back-and-forth discussion about predigested educational materials, which is being billed as a new style of adult learning.

Maintenance of certification will be discussed by representatives from the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. They will shed light on a pilot program that would relieve diplomates from the secure exam requirement, Dr Carson added.

Dr Phelan and Dr Carson have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.


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