By: 7 May 2014

shutterstock_112981705T he 15th Congress of the European Federation of National Associations of Orthopaedics and Traumatology (EFORT) takes place in 2014 in London, from June 4 to 6, with patient safety as its overarching theme. This focus addresses the growing complexity in orthopaedic procedures. Patient safety has also become a critical issue with greater mobility in the medical profession across Europe while standards of training in orthopaedics are still not uniform. The British Orthopaedic Association holds special sessions on its revalidation programme designed to ensure all surgeons are up-to-date and which should serve as a model for Europe.

Patient safety, the motto of the 2014 EFORT Congress, was identified by the WHO as a serious global public health issue in 2002, after a study estimated that in developed countries as many as one in 10 patients is harmed while receiving hospital care. The President of EFORT, Dr Manuel Cassiano-Neves, says while orthopaedics is now far more complex and effective than in the past, that has also increased the potential risks. Recent experience with metal on metal hip prosthesis is a good example of this, Dr Manuel Cassiano-Neves notices. “Large-head metal-on-metal bearings initially showed promising results with earlier and faster rehabilitation, improved propioceptivity and range-of-motion.” However, difficulties have emerged, says Dr Cassiano-Neves, with early reports from several single-centre studies and now also from national hip arthroplasty registries clearly showing a higher than “average” revision rate of these implants due to early painful loosening, particle generation and periprosthetic tissue damage. “This shows that more and more attention needs to be paid in medical education to safety issues with new techniques and implants,” he says. Thus the various symposia and instructional lectures at the 15th EFORT Congress in London will be directed to the topic “safety”. “It is our aim to deliver the best educational sessions to improve orthopaedic health care in Europe in order to meet the increasing expectations of an ageing population that wants to maintain an active life during retirement,” says Dr Cassiano-Neves.

The BOA introduces a model training programme to update surgeons
A further aspect of the focus on safety issues, says Prof Stephen Cannon, EFORT Vice President and Chair of the Local Organising Committee for the London Congress in 2014, has to do with increasing mobility within Europe in the medical profession. “The emphasis on patient safety is essentially driven by the free movement of labour across Europe. Surgeons have very varied surgical education and experience and many have not undergone a final examination.”

It is particularly timely that the London EFORT Congress is a combined meeting with the British Orthopaedic Association (BOA). “This is a wonderful opportunity to consolidate orthopaedics across Europe”, says Prof Timothy Briggs, President of the BOA. “The BOA has developed a comprehensive five year rolling programme in orthopaedics to keep surgeons up-to-date and assist them with revalidation.”

Prof Briggs says this revalidation programme is likely to become the model on how to provide training for surgeons across Europe. “At the London meeting, participants from across Europe will have the opportunity to experience the programme, and are invited to come to sessions on how revalidation is affecting surgeons in the UK.”

Evidence-based sessions also focus on patient safety

The concerns for patient safety are also reflected in London in the Evidence Based Medicine sessions which have proved very successful after their introduction at recent Congresses. Local Organising Committee Chair, Prof Cannon says: “Often patients are subjected to treatment which has not undergone a controlled randomised trial and there is considerable drive by many governments and by the European Commission to introduce evidence based therapies.” The Congress also includes the full line-up of interactive expert exchanges which have proved “very helpful in bringing out novel therapies and surgical approaches in orthopaedics,” says Prof Cannon, as well as lectures and complex case discussions led by highly experienced surgeons and focusing on specific clinical scenarios.

Industry workshops and exhibition to be a highlight

Plans are also afoot to give industry greater prominence at the EFORT London meeting than at past Congresses, with symposia, workshops and technical exhibits. Meanwhile London as a venue offers a vast range of extra-curricular entertainments to Congress participants which should make it a pleasurable as well as a highly valuable professional meeting.