Physician/Medical Device financial arrangements continue to draw scrutiny by regulators. According to an article in the New York Times, Senator Charles Grassley has instituted an inquiry into payments between device-maker Medtronic and Dr. David Polly that Grassley says were not disclosed by Dr. Polly when he testified before Senate Panel in 2006. Specifically, Dr. Polly allegedly failed to disclose during his testimony that Medtronic was paying him $6,000 for his appearance before the committee.
Although the amount not disclosed is small, documents released by Senator Grassley show that between 2003 and 2007, Medtronic paid Dr. Polly in excess of $1.14 million in consulting fees and expenses from Medtronic. The lesson for physicians: As medical costs and quality emerge as the buzzwords for health care reform, financial arrangements which create or which give the appearance of conflicts of interest are increasingly likely to come under scrutiny by regulators and enforcement authorities. Physician contemplating these arrangements must carefully evaluate the benefit of the arrangements and the potential pitfalls.