Pardon the Interruption keeps the debate going with expanded slate

David Schulman, MD, MPH, FCCP
David Schulman, MD, MPH, FCCP

“Entertainment” and “education” often come to mind when thinking of the CHEST Annual Meeting. But a third E—experimentation—is just as integral to its popular Pardon the Interruption debate sessions.

“If something works, try something different,” said CHEST President David Schulman, MD, MPH, FCCP, who has moderated the sessions across 4 years and several iterations.

What started as scientific smack talk among friends grew to a three-round championship last year. Face-to-face panels gave way to a video-call mosaic during the pandemic. And all the while, Dr. Schulman kept tinkering around the edges of the central format—strong personalities with strong opinions about medical topics that don’t always have a strong consensus.

In Year 5, Pardon the Interruption is undergoing its biggest evolution yet. CHEST 2022 attendees will be treated to 4 consecutive days of sessions, Sunday, October 16, through Wednesday, October 19, each morning at 8:00 AM CT. Gone are the multiple rounds with a singular focus on critical care controversies, and in their place are sessions dedicated to four distinct clinical topics.

“We’re going to try to spread the love a little bit and bring in dignitaries in a number of different domains to have at each other for the entertainment and education of the audience,” Dr. Schulman said. “We still have a session on critical care, as we always have, but we also have specific sessions on asthma, on pulmonary vascular disease, and on sleep medicine.”

Neil Freedman, MD, FCCP
Neil Freedman, MD, FCCP

As in years past, participants will field rapid-fire questions from Dr. Schulman, who will then play the colleague-competitors off against each other in a vigorous but good-natured conversation. The best answers earn points, as do the best zingers, following a fluid, fun-based scoring system that can move down just as fast as up.

At the end of each session, topic experts will help Dr. Schulman highlight any context or scientific evidence that got lost in the crossfire. After all, talking through these questions is an important part of practicing medicine in an everchanging world, said sleep medicine discussant Neil Freedman, MD, FCCP.

“The reason we call it the art of medicine is not everything is guideline-driven, and not every patient’s body has read the textbook on how a disease is supposed to present,” Dr. Freedman said. “A lot of the things we do don’t necessarily have one best answer, but hopefully for the clinicians in the audience, it’ll help give them some guidance or at least confirm that what they’re doing seems to be the right thing.”

The audience may even get a chance to participate in that conversation. Now that the annual meeting is back in person, expect even more chances for engagement and excitement, Dr. Schulman said. And although the sessions will be recorded for the CHEST 2022 On Demand Pass, he encourages everyone to bring some popcorn, snag a front-row seat, and enjoy the live theater of it all.

“It’s not as fun watching a boxing match if you already know who’s getting knocked out. So coming in person will be the best way to experience Pardon the Interruption.”