Recently the AAOS Now Editorial Board had to deal with the question of how to handle news from the orthopaedic industry. In this month’s issue, you’ll find a “Sound-off” article by Jeffrey Binder, chief executive officer of Biomet. It is a generic article extolling the virtues of total joint replacement and the impact joint replacement has on the quality of life for older patients.


Published 7/1/2008
S. Terry Canale, MD

Too hot to handle?

S. Terry Canale, MD

As orthopaedic surgeons, we are committed to advancing patient care, and we may often have to serve as advocates of total joint replacement for our patients. The orthopaedic industry is also interested in advancing patient care through total joint replacement. You could argue, I suppose, that their motives are different than ours. Maybe they are…but maybe they’re not. We do share at least one similar motive—to improve the lives of patients through orthopaedics.

But the question was asked: Should the Academy’s official printed news—AAOS Now—publish articles from industry? If we did, would our readers assume that somehow the Academy was “endorsing” a particular company or product? With the first anniversary of the Department of Justice settlements fast approaching, would publishing an article from industry be perceived as a “conflict of interest”?

The Editorial Board, after discussing the issue, developed a set of guidelines (see below) for “industry news,” that is, information or articles submitted by a “commercial source.” In general, to be publishable the information must be newsworthy, it must be generic (not commercial), it must not be promotional or self-serving. The decision to print will be at the sole discretion of AAOS Now and will be independent of any support, such as industry advertising in AAOS Now.

Fire away!
In making the decision to accept content from industry, AAOS Now may come under some fire. We already have been criticized for reporting on clinical presentations that have yet to pass a peer-review process and have not been published in a journal.

I know that you—our readers—know the difference between a peer-reviewed journal article and a news report. I know that you know that everything you read might not be a verifiable truth and that different degrees of scientific validity exist. I want you to remember that as you read AAOS Now.

Clinical topics reported on in AAOS Now are selected in several ways. Some are suggested by staff, some by members of AAOS committees, and some from our editorial board. Every member of the AAOS Now editorial board has a specialty interest. Each reviews a variety of specialty clinical podium presentations, posters, articles, and subjects that appear to be “newsworthy” or “cutting edge.” We may be wrong, but we’re never in doubt!

These articles are scheduled 3 to 6 months in advance. A staff writer, committee member, or volunteer author then prepares the article. We go to great lengths to get the news from the “horse’s mouth,” from the presenter or an expert in the field. You may not agree with what they say, but you will always know our sources. We will not go to jail for refusing to reveal a source. And, when possible, we will give you online links to a more complete story, scientific references, and other resources on our Web site,

At the end of each article, we provide contact information for our reporters and contributors so you can contact them directly. The AAOS Now Web site even includes an online “e-mail the editor” feature so you can contact me.

Not all of you—our readers—may agree with the story or the results we report. That’s why we call our letters column “Setting Now straight,” so you can express your opinion. And we do want to hear from you. But we also want you to accept AAOS Now for its mission to report on the news in orthopaedics—with the open invitation to set us straight when need be.

AAOS Now Editorial Guidelines on Content from Commercial Sources

  • A “commercial source” shall be understood to be a business entity or organization whose primary purpose is providing goods or services to or for the field of orthopaedics with the goal of financial gain.
  • AAOS Now reserves the right to accept, reject, and edit any content from a commercial source in any manner it wishes, without exception.
  • Any content from such a source must, in the opinion of AAOS Now, have true informational value or be newsworthy in nature.
  • Content from such a source should be primarily generic in nature, particularly with respect to products or services that might be part of the source’s commercial operations.
  • Content from such a source must be nonpromotional in nature with respect to the products or services offered by the source.
  • Content from such a source shall not contain verbiage that, in the opinion of AAOS Now, is self-serving.
  • Authors shall adhere to the standard AAOS Now writers’ guidelines, available on the AAOS Now Web site,
  • Guidelines regarding word count, graphics, and other issues that apply to staff-generated content shall apply also to content from commercial sources, but without further restriction or expectation.
  • Acceptance of content from a commercial source shall be entirely independent of any financial support provided in any manner to AAOS Now or the AAOS. In particular, decisions to accept such content shall be independent of any purchase of display advertising space by the source in AAOS Now.