DOI: 10.1097/prs.0000000000010958 ISSN: 0032-1052

A 9-Year Review of Ethics Complaints to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons

Katelyn G. Makar, Anureet K. Bajaj, Julie E. Park, B. Aviva Preminger, Christian J. Vercler
  • Surgery


The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) provides an avenue for filing formal complaints regarding unethical behavior of Members. These complaints are investigated by the Ethics Committee and referred to the Judicial Council if a violation may have occurred.


A review of complaints filed with the ASPS from 2013-2021 was performed. Data surrounding both complaints and complainant type were reviewed, as well as region of complaint origin. Categories of violations resulting formal investigations and Judicial Council referrals were also reviewed.


A total of 584 complaints were filed with the ASPS Ethics Committee from 2013-2021, which was nearly 100 fewer than from a prior review of 2004-2008. Twenty-one percent of complaints were formally investigated by the Ethics Committee, and 26% of these were referred to the Judicial Council. The most common complaint investigated was related to advertising/misleading communications, whereas the most common complaint referred to the Judicial Council was regarding expert testimony. Most complaints were filed by ASPS members.


The total number of complaints filed decreased significantly, the reasons for which are unclear. Evolution of culture and thought likely impacted not only specific behaviors, but also the likelihood of reporting those behaviors. It remains incumbent on plastic surgeons to utilize the self-regulating mechanisms available in order to maintain the autonomy we enjoy as a profession.

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