Emory gastroenterologist Stan P. Riepe, MD, JD, was presented with the prestigious Master Endoscopist Award on May 15 by the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE). Dr. Riepe was one of three recipients awarded by the national organization. The next day, he received his law degree from Emory University School of Law.
The ASGE award was presented to Dr. Riepe at the Crystal Awards Dinner in Chicago during the ASGE's annual Digestive Disease Week meeting. The ASGE, founded in 1941, is the preeminent professional organization dedicated to advancing the practice of Endoscopy.
Endoscopy has revolutionized the field of gastroenterology. Through the use of a lighted flexible tube with a computer chip on the end that is inserted into the intestinal tract, electronic signals are sent to a computer that displays images on a video screen. Using those images, the physician can directly examine almost any part of the digestive system, obtain biopsies, and remove polyps.
At the ceremony, David J. Bjorkman, MD, a past ASGE president, presented the Master Endoscopist Award to Dr. Riepe. The award "recognizes his impressive career as a gastroenterologist, endoscopist, teacher, and administrator," he said when presenting the award to Dr. Riepe at the ceremony.
"Dr. Riepe is known for his personable and compassionate care of patients and his gentle style with colleagues. A prolific author and contributor to the scientific literature, Dr. Riepe is professionally passionate about the areas of inflammatory bowel disease and referral colonoscopy," added Dr. Bjorkman.
Dr. Riepe, a professor in the Division of Digestive Diseases, Department of Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, is a graduate of Emory University and Emory University School of Medicine. He completed his residency training at Barnes Hospital, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. He also attended St. George's Hospital in London and Yale University for elective study. He is one of the nation's pioneers in the use of the endoscope.
"It is a great privilege to have received this award," says Dr. Riepe. "I have spent my career trying to improve both my personal endoscopic technique, and my ability to impart this to gastroenterology trainees. I hope it has been with some degree of measurable success."
While not working on endoscopic techniques, Dr. Riepe has been working on his Juris Doctorate. "I have always been interested in knowing more about the medical profession from the legal perspective," says Dr. Riepe. "I felt there was a whole field of knowledge related to medicine that I lacked."
"My legal education has been an eye-opener. I have realized what a major problem malpractice litigation is, and until physicians can disclose a medical error without being punished or stigmatized, the system is unlikely to improve."
Dr. Riepe believes that his medical background combined with his law degree will give him some of the tools he can use to influence positive changes in the way medical mistakes are resolved. "Physicians are human. They are going to make mistakes. Our job is to learn from those mistakes and have checks and balances to make sure those mistakes are minimized. In order to do that, we need to make the system more transparent."
Dr. Riepe plans to continue as part-time professor in the Emory School of Medicine, and use his professional legal training as a part-time consultant. Dr. Riepe hopes to eventually become a faculty member in the Emory School of Law.
When he's not practicing medicine seeing patients, teaching, or studying law, Dr. Riepe coaches Bantam Travel Ice Hockey at the Ice Forum in Kennesaw, Georgia, and works with the Boy Scouts of America as a Merit Badge Counselor.