Orthopedists Fail to Disclose Payments

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Orthopedists failed to disclose over 20% of the payments they receive from makers of hip and knee replacements when presenting research related to the companies’ products, a new study found. The finding, publishedthis weekin the New England Journal of Medicine, comes amid growing legislative efforts to require medical companies to disclose payments made to physicians, and researchers to alert the public to potential conflicts of interest that may color how doctors treat them.

Such laws have been enacted in Massachusetts and Vermont, and a federal effort, the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, is pending a vote in the U.S. Senate as part of a health-care reform bill. The Advanced Medical Technology Association, which represents device makers, says it supports the legislation.

“Disclosure is key, but self-disclosure by physicians may not be so accurate,” said Mininder Kocher, a Harvard Medical School orthopedic surgeon who participated in the research.

In the study, researchers measured the accuracy of disclosures by orthopedic surgeons who presented research at the March 2008 annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, by comparing the doctors’ disclosures against a similar list published by five makers of hip and knee implants.

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