Conflicts of Interest in Health Care
This week, ProPublica.com posted an article titled “ Docs on Pharma payroll have blemished records and limited credentials”. According to the article, written by Charles Ornstein, Tracy Weber and Dan Nguyen, a ProPublica investigation “…uncovered hundreds of doctors on [pharmaceutical] company payrolls who had been accused of professional misconduct, were disciplined by state boards, or lacked credentials as researchers or specialists.”
Go here to read the full article: http://www.propublica.org/article/dollars-to-doctors-physician-disciplinary-records
ProPublica states that this will be the first of “several” stories to run on the site looking at the “high stakes pursuit” of our country’s doctors and physicians and their “prescription pads”.
So what, you may ask, does any of this have to do with credentialing, particularly direct care workers, nurses, aides, even dietary technicians? Just this….as a country we look to doctors, lawyers, and educators when it comes to the standards that we hold everyone to. If your law school professor said it, nine times out of ten, you’re going to believe it. If your law school professor has a slant on a particular law, more than likely, his students are going to adopt some of that attitude also.
The same can be said about our doctors. If pharmaceutical companies are searching out physicians to sell their products, and pay them to do so, then it is a safe bet that the patients (former or current) of those doctors are going to buy in. That is indeed why pharmaceutical companies pay doctors to help them brand and sell certain products.
But if the doctor’s that are helping the pharmaceutical companies sell their products have been before the “review board” for misconduct, or if they don’t actually have the certifications and licensing in neurology and they are helping Eli Lilly sell one of their antidepressants, how can we, as the doctors patients’ expect the nurse’s aide – who by the way, is in and out of our hospital room more times than the doctor himself – to have the certifications necessary to do what he/she does? How can we be sure that the other direct care workers that are busy checking serum levels and making sure IV drips are dripping correctly haven’t been before the state’s review board?
Yeah, I know, you credential them before they get hired, blah, blah. But in a state like Georgia, where ProPublica found a Dr. Ronald Taylor, who had been kicked off of the staff at an area hospital for giving young female patients vaginal and rectal exams without documenting why, where direct-care workers are not required to have background checks done, how do you really know for sure who’s taking your temperature?
Healthcare is a system that is based on trust between the caregiver (doctor, nurse, dietician, etc.) and the patient. No matter how much research you do on what ails you, you still trust that your doctor (and his staff) is doing what is in the best interest of the patient. If doctors are at the head of the food chain in medicine, and they aren’t doing the right thing, how can we expect the rest of his/her staff to do the right thing? We need our doctor’s to lead by example so we as patients can be safe in knowing that the rest of the staff is being led honestly.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 20th, 2010 at 10:41 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.