Examining Physicians' Disclosure To Patients Of Business Ties
The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday examined physicians' disclosure of business ties that might be considered conflicts of interest. According to the Journal,many "physicians don't volunteer information about financialrelationships that might bear on treatment decisions." In addition,"patients often find the discussion of a doctor's financial connectionsto be awkward and one they are reluctant to initiate," the Journalreports. However, the situation is "slowly changing as more informationbecomes publicly available about payments doctors receive," accordingto the Journal.
Congress is consideringlegislation that would require companies to disclose all payments ofmore than $25 made to physicians. Minnesota and Vermont already havelaws requiring drug companies to report payments to doctors. Inaddition, some doctor groups require their members to tell patientsabout financial connections. For example, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeonsbeginning in January 2008 will require surgeon members to disclose topatients any financial arrangements with the industry that relate topatients' treatment. According to the Journal, "Patients often don't think of the ways in which these relationships may influence their treatment."
Patientadvocate Trisha Torrey said patients should do their own research andget a second opinion if they are suspicious of a recommendation fortreatment. David Blumenthal, a researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital,said physicians, hospitals and insurers should be responsible forinforming patients of any financial stake they have in treatments(Armstrong, Wall Street Journal, 11/20).
Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily HealthPolicy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The HenryJ. Kaiser Family Foundation.