Fewer than one in five teaching hospitals make the grade on conflict-of-interest policies


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: SEPTEMBER 29, 2014

Contact: Pete Thomson
pr@amsa.org
703-665-4786Jeff Koetje, M.D.
jkoetje@amsa.org

Sterling, Virginia—On the eve of the launch of the Medicare Open Payments database, official policies on conflicts of interest fall short of ideal at major teaching hospitals, according to an evaluation of more than 200 U.S. teaching hospitals conducted by the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) as a new component of its annual scorecard.

While the Open Payments database will, over time, yield tremendous insight into which physicians and facilities receive industry marketing funds, the AMSA Scorecard—in its eighth year—provides an at-a-glance dashboard of institutional conflict-of-interest policies at academic medical centers. With Monday’s update, the scorecard evaluates 204 teaching hospitals, in addition to all 160 U.S. medical schools.

Of the 204 teaching hospitals scored, 35 received A’s (17 percent), 111 received B’s (54 percent), and 31 received C’s (15 percent). Twenty-seven teaching hospitals (13 percent) received a score of “Incomplete” because the available policies were insufficient for evaluation.

Teaching hospitals are medical centers that receive federal subsidies to train resident physicians. Prior to the the inclusion of the teaching hospitals in AMSA’s scorecard, there has been very little public accountability surrounding pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers’ influence on purchasing decisions and even on the therapies available to patients.

One finding of the scorecard is particularly interesting as the Open Payments system and the Sunshine Act begin to shed light on relationships between providers and industry: A large majority of the hospitals studied had policies in place for internal disclosure of potential conflicts of interest, but lacked policies for disclosure to the public. Only 19 teaching hospitals met “model” criteria for disclosing potential conflicts of interest both internally and externally.

The scorecard is part of AMSA’s Just Medicine Campaign and was formerly known as the AMSA PharmFree Scorecard. With the addition of teaching hospitals, the tool is now also particularly useful to medical students choosing a residency program. The scorecard will give those students an easily digestible view of each institution’s attitude toward industry influence.

“As physicians-in-training, we have to be confident that the education we are receiving is free from conflict of interest,” says Dr. Britani Kessler, AMSA’s national president. “That is why it is so important to AMSA to advocate on behalf of students to ensure that we retain the right to unbiased training. We are very excited to announce the 2014 Scorecard with the addition of teaching hospitals this year.”

The AMSA Scorecard for U.S. Teaching Hospitals is available athttp://teaching-hospitals.amsascorecard.org/. Members of the scorecard’s research team introduced and discussed their findings on Monday, Sept. 29. The event included Dr. Daniel Carlat of the Pew Charitable Trusts, Shantrice Appleby, AMSA’s Just Medicine fellow, and Dr. William Jordan, president-elect of the National Physicians Alliance. To learn more about the AMSA Scorecard and the AMSA Just Medicine Campaign, visit//www.amsa.org/JustMedicine.

About the Just Medicine Campaign

Launched in 2002, AMSA’s PharmFree Campaign—now the Just Medicine Campaign—encourages and works with medical schools and academic medical centers to develop policies that protect the integrity of medical education and reduce conflicts of interest through rigorous regulation of interactions with pharmaceutical and medical device industries. The Campaign guides medical students in advocating for evidence-based rather than marketing-based prescribing practices, the removal of conflicts of interest, and global access to essential medicines. AMSA provides toolkits, talks, and training institutes to help medical students advance these goals. For more information, visit//www.amsa.org/JustMedicine.

###

About the American Medical Student Association

AMSA is the oldest and largest independent association of physicians-in-training in the United States. Founded in 1950, AMSA is a student-governed, non-profit organization committed to representing the concerns of physicians-in-training. To learn more about AMSA, our strategic priorities, or joining the organization, please visit us online at www.amsa.org.