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Surgeon Affiliations Have Impact on Surgeries

By Admin | June 22, 2016

Is there a financial incentive for surgeons to perform spinal fusions? Yes, according to a study conducted by Senate Finance Committee Republicans.

Findings show that when doctors have ownership interests with medical-device makers, surgeons generally earn commissions with sales. These same surgeons tend to perform excessive or unnecessary operations in order to earn additional income from commissions.

The most common doctor-owned distributorships are related to spinal surgeries.

Surgeons involved with distributorships performed 91% more spinal fusions versus surgeons without similar arrangements. That is nearly twice as many surgeries.

The report states that physician-owned distributors “present an inherent conflict of interest that can put the physician’s medical judgement at odds with the patient’s best interests.”

The report also recommends that federal law require doctors to disclose to their hospitals and patients any ownership they or their family members may have in private device companies.

“It is my hope that, with this report, we can continue to work towards expanding transparency and identifying how to better protect and inform patients about what could possibly be harmful [physician-owned distributorship] arrangements,” said Orrin Hatch (R., Utah), Senate Finance Committee Chairman.

Information for this article was taken from “Doctor-Device Deals Need Scrutiny, Report Says” by Stephanie Armour. It was posted in the Wall Street Journal on May 9, 2016.

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