The practice of thoracic surgery in Canada
The objective of the consensus conference of the Canadian Association of Thoracic Surgeons (CATS) was to define the scope of thoracic surgery practice in Canada, to develop standards of practice, to define training and resource requirements for the practice of thoracic surgery in Canada and to determine appropriate waiting times for thoracic surgery care. A meeting of the CATS membership was held in September 2001 to address issues facing thoracic surgeons practising in Canada. The discussion was facilitated by an expert panel of surgeons and supplemented by a survey. At the end of the meeting, consensus was reached by the membership regarding the issues outline above.
The membership agreed that the scope of practice includes diagnosis and management of conditions of the lungs, mediastinum, pleura and foregut. They agreed that appropriate training in thoracic surgery included completion and certification in general or cardiac surgery prior to completing a 2-year program in thoracic surgery. The membership supported the Canadian Society of Surgical Oncology recommendations for management of cancer patients that new patients should be seen within 2 weeks of referral and cancer therapy initiated within 2 weeks of consultation. Thoracic surgical care is best delivered by 2 or 3 fully certified thoracic surgeons, in regional centres linked to a cancer centre and trauma unit. The establishment of a critical mass of thoracic surgeons in each centre would lead to improved quality and delivery of care and allow for adequate coverage for on-call and continuing medical education.