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The Cardiothoracic Ethics Forum

The Cardiothoracic Ethics Forum (the Forum) was founded in 1999 in response to a perceived need for discussion of ethics topics by thoracic surgeons. It is a joint committee of the AATS and the STS, and has been responsible for ethics education for the field of thoracic surgery. In exercising that responsibility, the Forum has sponsored over 60 ethics sessions at cardiothoracic surgery meetings and its members have published hundreds of papers on ethics topics since 2000, in The Annals of Thoracic Surgery, the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, and other surgery, general medicine, and ethics journals. A survey carried out by the Forum indicated that these efforts have had positive effects on cardiothoracic surgical practices. 

The Forum created and has managed the Surgical Ethics Course at the annual meeting of the AATS since 2014. It has supplied ethics-related questions to the American Board of Thoracic Surgery (ABTS) for use in its qualifying examination and also provides questions to the Thoracic Surgery Directors’ Association (TSDA) for use in its In-Training Examination. In addition, the Forum has published over a dozen policy papers affecting all of cardiothoracic surgery jointly in the Annals of Thoracic Surgery and the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery.

The Forum began with a few members of The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) and the American Association for Thoracic Surgery (AATS) who are interested in ethics, and it has evolved to comprise all the members of both the STS Standards & Ethics Committee and the AATS Ethics Committee, as well as a few at-large members. A list of the current and former membership of the Forum can be found here.

The Forum effectively separated ethics education from other functions (disciplinary review and specific society-related policy development) served by the AATS and STS ethics committees. Connection to both The Annals of Thoracic Surgery and the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery has been maintained through the Forum membership of the ethics editors of both journals. Forum activities have enjoyed the approval and support of the STS Board of Directors, the AATS Council, and the Southern Thoracic Surgical Association Council for many years.

The CT Ethics Forum Scholarship Program has been responsible for ethics education for dozens of CT surgeons as part of an ongoing effort to increase ethics expertise within the ranks of cardiothoracic surgeons. It has been financially supported by both the AATS and the STS.