The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists was initially formed to be the “premiere professional membership organization for women’s health.” ACOG’s guidelines on treatment for gynecological diseases have a far reaching impact and influence on the ways in which diseases are diagnosed and treated by practitioners. ACOG also has control over how medical procedures are coded, so that insurance companies can adequately reimburse practitioners for their services.
Educated patients, dedicated advocates, and expert endometriosis practitioners strongly believe that ACOG is not acting as a leader in endometriosis healthcare. The lack of institutional leadership has caused suffering for patients in the form of delays in diagnosis and poor access to effectual care. In a March 2017 article, ACOG’s Tom Gellhaus, MD shared that up to “63 percent of general practitioners feel uncomfortable diagnosing and treating patients with endometriosis, and as many as half are unfamiliar with the three main symptoms of the disease.” This is a systemic problem that needs to be addressed immediately by creating new standards of care with the input of thought leaders in the endometriosis community.
Furthermore, respected endometriosis surgical leaders have asked ACOG Leadership to create coding specific to the techniques used during extensive excision surgery in order to facilitate appropriate compensation. Due to the lack of reimbursement, many patients are billed for these needed surgical procedures as out-of-network services, making needed excision techniques inaccessible to so many patients who cannot afford treatment. It is improper and unjust to compensate surgeons who spend hours meticulously removing endometriosis from a patient’s bowels, bladder, gallbladder, appendix and diaphragm, the same as doctors who perform a 40-minute ablation procedure, leaving the majority of disease behind. We demand that the ACOG leadership work with endometriosis excision thought leaders at AAGL to create the coding needed so that excision surgery, the gold standard of treatment, may be accessible to all.
Until changes are made, the endometriosis community considers ACOG to be condoning practices that delay diagnosis, creating unnecessary obstacles to the effective treatment of endometriosis, and ignoring the needs of 1 in 10 women. This is a social justice issue that profoundly impacts millions of patients’ emotional, social, and physical well-being daily. Support this petition if you agree it is time for ACOG to change its policies with the help of leaders in the endometriosis community.