American College of SurgeonsAMERICAN COLLEGE OF SURGEONS

The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational association of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to improve the quality of care for the surgical patient by setting high standards for surgical education and practice.

Members of the American College of Surgeons are referred to as "Fellows." The letters FACS (Fellow, American College of Surgeons) after a surgeon's name mean that the surgeon's education and training, professional qualifications, surgical competence, and ethical conduct have passed a rigorous evaluation, and have been found to be consistent with the high standards established and demanded by the College. The College currently has over 70,000 members, including more than 4,000 Fellows in other countries, making it the largest organization of surgeons in the world.

Public information from the American College of Surgeons:

There are no hard-and-fast rules to tell you when consultation (or second opinion) is needed, but before you agree to an operation, you should discuss the following questions with your surgeon:

1. A consultation is not worth much unless it is given by someone with the knowledge of and expertise in treating your condition. Always seek consultation from a surgeon who is a qualified surgical specialist. A good way to judge a surgeon's qualifications is to find out if he or she is certified by a surgical board that is approved by the American Board of Medical Specialties. By choosing a consultant who is board certified in the appropriate surgical specialty, you know that he or she has completed years of residency training and practice in his specialty and has demonstrated his competence by successfully completing a rigorous examination. And, if the surgeon is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons (F.A.C.S.), you will know that he or she has passed a thorough evaluation of both professional competence and ethical fitness. Fellows are board-certified surgeons, or, in unusual circumstances, have met other standards comparable to those of board certification.

2. Remember, a second opinion is not necessarily better than a first opinion and, whether there is agreement or disagreement, the final decision will be yours. It's a decision that should be made with all the facts, so don't hesitate to discuss with your surgeon any questions or concerns you may have.

  • What are the indications for the operation?
  • What, if any, alternative forms of treatment are available?
  • What will be the likely result if you don't have the operation?
  • What are the risks?
  • How is the operation expected to improve your health or quality of life?
  • Are there likely to be residual effects from the operation?

American College of Surgeons
Office of Public Information
633 N. Saint Clair St.
Chicago, IL 60611

If you are considering an operation, you may have further questions in these topic areas:
Who should do your operation?
Giving your informed consent.
What will your operation cost?