NASS On Spine


April 02, 2019


Q&A With Carter Cassidy, MD


1. What is your hometown and where do you currently live?


I was born and raised in Portsmouth, Ohio. After college and medical school in northern Ohio, I came to Lexington, Kentucky, for residency, and still live in central Kentucky.


2. What type of physician are you? How long have you been practicing?


I am an orthopaedic surgeon, recently re-certified by the American Board of Orthoapedic Surgery. I work at the University of Kentucky and treat all spine conditions, from simple disk herniations to complex deformity reconstruction. I’ve been in practice for 13 years.


3. How long have you been a NASS member and why did you join?


I joined NASS during my fellowship at the recommendation of my mentor, Dr. Will Shaffer. At the time, he was working on some of the early guidelines. I really enjoyed my first NASS meeting, where the focus was entirely on spine care. The multi-disciplinary nature of NASS membership also enriches the product as a whole.


4. What is the most rewarding part of being a member of the Evidence-Based Guideline Development Committee? What is the most challenging?


I have really enjoyed my time on the Evidence-Based Guideline Development Committee. I feel that, as physicians, we help our patients make the best decisions for their care when we understand what the best evidence has to say about each individual problem. In some areas, the evidence is excellent and clear. In others, the evidence is sparse or of lower level of evidence and, therefore, not able to be used in the guidelines. This can be frustrating to members of the guideline development work groups, as some well-established studies sometimes do not meet our established standards for inclusion. This may seem unnecessarily stringent to some, but it helps to keep the guidelines of as high quality as we can produce.


5. What can you share about evidence-based clinical practice guidelines in general that members might not be aware of?


There is a significant amount of work that goes into each and every guideline. It starts with the question development, to literature search, to a significant amount of reading of the literature to discuss all available articles for inclusion or exclusion on a specific topic. This involves many hours of effort for NASS members and the excellent support staff to keep the process moving. Because of the multi-disciplinary nature of NASS, the work groups are composed of a variety of spine care providers from different specialties. Toward the end of the process, guidelines undergo review by developers and the NASS leadership. This process makes the guidelines as strong as possible.


6. What do you think is currently the biggest obstacle facing spine providers in the modern landscape?


My biggest challenge is the regulatory environment in medicine, which is not really specific to spine care. I now have to justify almost every test and surgery scheduled to a much higher level than I had to do a few years ago. The electronic medical record has diminished the number of patients that I can see, and with no appreciable improvement in efficiency or patient care. Unfortunately, many aspects of medical care are affected politically. It is important that we support the Spine PAC, to help our elected representatives understand how their decisions affect our patients.


7. Social media is becoming more prevalent every day in our world. Do you use social media at all professionally and if so, which platforms do you prefer?


Social media is definitely more prevalent. My only presence online is what my employer has included on our university website. I have no Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Certainly, those platforms offer significant potential benefits. However, I don’t have the time that I feel would be necessary to devote to maintenance of a proper profile.


8. What is your opinion of the way the health care industry is currently covered in the media?


As biased as each of the major media outlets are, I feel that health care, for the most part, is covered fairly. Physicians would be easy targets for the class warfare the media likes to stir, but I have not seen this.


9. What do you do for relaxation in your down time (example: hobbies, sports, travel)?


When I get free time, my wife and I are usually driving our two boys to athletic endeavors and I greatly enjoy watching their activities. I like to be outside working on my yard or golfing. I love to cook and eat.
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