As we reported nearly two weeks ago, the eminent surgeon Lazar Greenfield recently lost his position as editor-in-chief of Surgery News over a Valentine’s Day editorial that some readers, particularly women, found offensive. Surgery News is an in-house publication of the American College of Surgeons (although it’s published by Elsevier), and Greenfield was scheduled to take the gavel in October as the new president of the college.
As two Retraction Watch readers have noted tonight, the surgery group has notified its members that Greenfield has stepped down from his official position with college. Here’s the letter that was sent today:
We are writing to inform you that the Board of Regents of the American College of Surgeons met on Sunday, April 17, to consider the continued status of Lazar J. Greenfield, M.D., FACS, as an officer of the College. Dr. Greenfield recently authored an editorial in Surgery News that some members of the surgical community found offensive. The College received numerous communications from the surgical community about the editorial.
Dr. Greenfield addressed the Board and expressed his deep regret that individuals had been offended by the article. After reaffirming his long-standing support for women in surgery, Dr. Greenfield resigned from his position as an officer of the College.
The contributions Dr. Greenfield has made to the field of surgery, including the invention of the Greenfield Filter, can not be overstated. We wish to honor Dr. Greenfield and celebrate his inestimable contributions to the College and the surgical community. We also know that at this critical juncture for surgery and health care in America, it is important that the American College of Surgeons not be distracted by any issues that would diminish its focus on improving care of the surgical patient.
As determined by the Board of Regents, Patricia J. Numann, MD, FACS, First Vice-President-Elect of the College, will assume the office of President-Elect.
Carlos A. Pellegrini, MD, FACS, Chair, Board of Regents
L. D. Britt, MD, FACS, President
David B. Hoyt, MD, FACS, Executive Director
American College of Surgeons
Regardless of where one stands on the propriety of Greenfield’s editorial — and comments on Retraction Watch and at The New York Times, which picked up the story Friday — have run the gamut from outrage to applause — no one can be anything but shocked by the extraordinarily rapid fall of such a major figure in his field over what by all accounts was an attempt at levity.
Full disclosure: One of us (AM) works for a company that publishes a newsmagazine that competes with Surgery News.