This initiative by Schecter and colleagues is commendable. At the 1992 Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons, I stated that:
We should develop an agenda within the discipline of surgery that governs our attitudes and practices in caring for the surgical needs of the poor. This agenda need not wait consensus legislation for the financing of global health care. How do we take care of the surgical needs of the underinsured and uninsured during this protracted national dialogue? My observations are not intended to ignore the contributions of surgeons who fulfill their responsibilities to indigent patients. The pro bono work of surgeons would be a difficult figure to calculate.
The American Medical Association reported in 1989 that an estimated $6.8 billion in charity care was given to needy patients by the physicians they surveyed. Physicians provided 6.6 hours per week (3 hours per week of free care and