COI FAQs 2021

Frequently Asked Questions (Updated 8/8/21)
Faculty Disclosure and Resolution of Conflict of Interest


Q.  Why must I disclose my financial relationships?
A.  The International College of Surgeons – United States Section is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) and as such we must follow accreditation guidelines to help us create high-quality education that is independent of industry influence. In order to participate as a person who will be able to control the educational content of our accredited educational activity, we ask that you disclose all financial relationships with any ineligible companies that you have had over the past 24 months. There is no minimum financial threshold; you must disclose all financial relationships, regardless of the amount, with ineligible companies. We ask you to disclose regardless of whether you view the financial relationships as relevant to the education.

Q.  Why do we collect this information?
A.  Since healthcare professionals serve as the trusted authorities when advising patients, they must protect their learning environment from industry influence to ensure they remain true to their ethical commitments. Many healthcare professionals have financial relationships with ineligible companies. By identifying and mitigating relevant financial relationships, we work together to create a protected space to learn, teach, and engage in scientific discourse free from influence from organizations that may have an incentive to insert commercial bias into education.

Q.  What are the next steps in this process?
A.  After we receive your disclosure information, we will review it to determine whether your financial relationships are relevant to the education. Please note: the identification of relevant financial relationships does not necessarily mean that you are unable to participate in the planning and implementation of this educational activity. Rather, the accreditation standards require that relevant financial relationships are mitigated before you assume your role in this activity.

Q.  What are the ACCME Standards for Integrity and Independence in Accredited Continuing Education?
A.  In September 2004, the ACCME first adopted Standards for Commercial Support to strengthen the mechanisms to prevent the potential for commercial bias in CME activities.  The standards promote the development of effective strategies to ensure full disclosure of faculty relationships with commercial entities (ineligible companies) and the subsequent resolution of potential conflicts of interest, and the provision of evidence based information to learners. Recently these standards were updated and are now referred to as Standards for Integrity and Independence in Accredited Continuing Education.

QWhat is the ACCME’s definition of an ineligible company?
A.  The ACCME defines an “ineligible company” as any entity whose primary business is producing, marketing, selling, re-selling, or distributing healthcare products used by or on patients, with the exception of non-profit organizations or government agencies.

Q.  What is a Relevant Financial Relationship?
A.  Relevant financial relationships are those relationships in which individuals benefit by receiving salary, royalty, intellectual property rights, consulting fees, honoraria, ownership interest or other financial benefit from an ineligible company within the past 24 months.  ACCME considers financial relationships of the person involved in a CME activity to include financial relationships of a spouse or partner.

Q.   What types of financial relationship constitute a Conflict of Interest?
A.   Circumstances not the relationship create a conflict of interest when an individual has an opportunity to affect CME content about the products or services of a commercial interest with which he/she has a financial relationship.

Q.  Can an employee of a commercial interest participate in the planning or presentation of educational content for a CME activity?
A.  No, to maintain independence, employees of commercial interests should NOT serve as planners or presenters.

Q.  How can Conflict of Interest be managed?
A.  In order to manage conflict of interest, we must know about relevant financial relationships that have occurred within the past 24-months. These financial relationships must be reported prior to the activity being developed and delivered to the learners.

Q.  Who has to disclose?
A.  All individuals who are engaged in the planning and delivering of a CME activity must complete a faculty disclosure form prior to planning the educational activity.  This includes activity directors, program chairs, specialty group chairs, planning committee members, faculty speakers, and moderators.

Q.  When is disclosure provided?
A.  Individuals involved in the planning of a CME activity are required to complete the ICS Planning Committee Member COI form 6-12 months prior to the activity.

Individuals involved in the presentation or teaching of an educational activity are required to complete the ICSUS Faculty/Speaker COI form once they have been selected to present or in the case of general abstract submissions at the time of submission.

Q.   Can YOU refuse to disclose?
A.   An individual who does not disclose or who refuses to disclose is disqualified from participating in an ICSUS CME activity.

Q.   How do we resolve a Conflict of Interest?
A.    All faculty members involved with the planning or teaching of a CME activity who disclose a relevant financial relationship with an ineligible company are deemed as having a conflict of interest. ICSUS will resolve that conflict prior to the CME activity.  One or more of the following mechanisms will be used to resolve the conflict:

  1. Peer Review of content (PowerPoint presentation, manuscript or any other materials that provide information about the content of the presentation) to ensure presentation is balanced.
  2. Change the content of the person’s assignment.
  3. Limit the Content to a report without recommendations.
  4. Replace the faculty member.
  5. Disqualify faculty if there is no other means with which to resolve conflict.


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