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OBGYN.net Conference CoverageFrom Society of Laparoscopic SurgeonsNew York, December, 1999
Dr. Larry Demco: "Today I'd like to interview Dr. Paul Wetter who is the Chairman of the Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons, and have him give us an overview of what the society is, where it's going, and the future of the Internet in regard to medicine on the Internet. Dr. Wetter, will you please tell us a little bit about the society?"
Dr. Paul Wetter: "Thank you, Dr. Demco. The SLS - The Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons - was founded approximately ten years ago, at the same time as the tremendous surge in the advent of new technologies in endoscopic surgery. Along with that growth, the society has grown itself, and today it's the largest laparoscopy society in North America, with over 6,000 members. SLS's mission is to provide information and education in the field of minimally invasive surgery. And to that end, we publish a peer review medical journal, called "JSLS," that goes out to over 8,000 surgeons in multiple specialties - general surgeons, gynecologists, urologists, and other practitioners of minimally invasive surgery. The idea behind the concept of SLS is for the various specialties to share information, and there have already been tremendous benefits to surgeons and patients because of this. There's been standardization of equipment and technologic areas where one technology was invented for a specific surgery, but was then adapted to other surgeries. Each year at our annual meeting we get together and discuss various topics related to endoscopic surgery - where it comes from, where it is today, where it's going, and how that relates to the various specialties. So it's a rare opportunity for surgeons of various specialties to get together and cross-pollinate with ideas. It's really an exciting time and an exciting experience for most of the participants."
Dr. Larry Demco: "You and I are both laparoscopic gynecologists. What could a general surgeon who also does laparoscopy teach us?"
Dr. Paul Wetter: "Larry, you know, for years when we ran into some problem that was not in the gynecologic area - for instance, something related to the ureters, the bowel, or patients with severe endometriosis - we often referred to our colleagues in other specialties as a resource. So it's not a usual leap of faith to realize the benefit of being able to discuss some of these issues beforehand or at international meetings. The exchange has really been excellent. It gives the gynecologists an advantage of being able to discuss the kinds of dilemmas they might come across with regard to the ureter or the bowel or other areas, and get some education right from the experts rather than gynecologist to gynecologist, from general surgeon to gynecologist with related to bowel injuries, with urologists to gynecologists relating to ureter injuries, and the list goes on and on and on. I think it also gives the gynecologist an extra level of confidence and understanding to have that type of interaction beforehand, rather than during an event."
Dr. Larry Demco: "The SLS has really become user friendly to the Internet. Where do you see the Internet and the education of doctors and the transfer of communication between doctors and patients?"
Dr. Paul Wetter: "Larry, the possibilities for the Internet are unlimited, and we recognized this early on. We're one of the first societies to have an Internet, which we've had now for approximately four years. As you know, the Internet has really blossomed within the past year or two. I would say now that well over 90% of all physicians utilize the Internet, and we're developing new ways for physicians to interact on the Internet and use that. It's also made this a very small planet with regard to the advent of medical literature. So we're working on ways to have our journal and our information more interactive, and also to relay information from different parts of the world to gynecologists and to surgeons so that there's more accurate and accessible information. And the Internet... the possibilities are unlimited for this. It just allows that type of communication - it eliminates time barriers and distance barriers."
Dr. Larry Demco: "If one of our readers on OBGYN.net would like to learn more about the SLS, how do they contact it?"
Dr. Paul Wetter: "The SLS website can be contacted in two ways - one is through laparoscopy.org and the other one is through sls.org."
Dr. Larry Demco: "Is there both patient and physician access to your site, or is it just strictly for physicians?"
Dr. Paul Wetter: "Our site is open to patients and physicians, and often there are very interesting questions that are posed by patients or potential patients. All of our active members are listed on the website, so if a patient poses a question, it then goes up for discussion on the list, but if they want more information they can also look on our website for SLS members in their area. It gives them information on how to contact that particular person."
Dr. Larry Demco: "Thank you, Dr. Wetter, for giving us an overview of the society. We're looking forward to its growth as the Internet grows. I appreciate your time, thank you."