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Report Addresses Physician Financial Conflicts in Care

AAMC offers teaching hospitals guidelines for avoiding conflicts resulting from industry ties

THURSDAY, July 1 (HealthDay News) -- In a new report, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) urges U.S. teaching hospitals to establish policies that ensure financial relationships between physicians and industry do not result in conflicts of interest that influence patient care.

The report, "In the Interest of Patients: Recommendations for Physician Financial Relationships and Clinical Decision Making," was produced by a 20-member panel of academic and hospital leaders chaired by Patrick J. Brennan, M.D., of the University of Pennsylvania Health System in Philadelphia. The panel was charged to address the issue by the AAMC in 2009.

The authors of the report urge teaching hospitals to: evaluate their own compensation systems to determine whether they influence physicians' behavior in conflict with patients' best interests; identify physician-industry financial relationships and their potential to affect clinical decision making; consider payments for royalties, services, and ownership in assessing financial interests; set thresholds for physician reporting and institutions' evaluation of financial ties; make public industry-physician relationships and institutional efforts to mitigate bias; and involve patients in deciding what information about physician-industry relationships should be made public.

"We believe these recommendations will provide guidance for how to implement policies that will meet the needs of both patients and the institutions that care for them, while more research is conducted on this issue," Brennan said in a statement.

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