The timing of the updated Standards was good for heart-related organizations, said panelist Marcia J. Jackson, PhD, senior advisor, education, American College of Cardiology Foundation, Bethesda, Md. The ACC, the American Heart Association, and other heart-related organizations had convened a conference on professionalism and ethics in 2004 that examined issues related to education and relationships with commercial interests.

A task force at the conference began developing a disclosure policy and procedures that all the heart associations would agree to follow, providing consistency for members, explained Jackson. Although the updated Standards do not require it, the heart associations felt that disclosures should include the degree of financial relationship with a commercial interest. On the ACC's new disclosure forms, people will be asked whether their relationship is modest — $10,000 or less — or significant, defined as $10,000 or more, Jackson said. Also included in the new disclosure form is a statement that the person's contribution to the activity will be based on best available evidence.

To minimize the time involved in collecting disclosures, the ACC is aiming to create a Web-based disclosure database of all CME contributors that could be updated regularly. The ACC could then e-mail perspective faculty members the disclosure information that was on file in the database, and ask them to review it and update it if necessary. Jackson says the ACC hopes to partner with its sister societies in creating and using this database to streamline the process for faculty as well as for staff. “We are concerned that active presenters might have to fill out multiple disclosure forms, which would be annoying,” said Jackson. For the full conference report, visit sensus/ethics/index.pdf.