A new report from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) urges US teaching hospitals to establish policies that manage financial relationships between physicians and industry so that they do not influence patient care. The report, titled “In the Interest of Patients: Recommendations for Physician Financial Relationships and Clinical Decision Making,” provides guidance on how academic medical centers can identify, evaluate, and disclose conflicts of interest in clinical care.

In the report, the 20-member task force, comprising senior leadership from US medical schools and teaching hospitals, points out that partnerships between academic medical centers and industry are essential to innovation and create powerful collaborations that benefit all patients. However, the presence of individual or institutional financial interests in these relationships sometimes creates perceived or real conflicts of interest in patient care.

Although many academic medical centers have conflicts of interest policies that govern research and corporate relationships, only a small number of these institutions have adopted policies that define and address conflicts of interest in clinical care.

To help academic medical centers develop guidelines, the report suggests that institutions first evaluate their own compensation systems to determine whether they influence physician behavior and conflict with the best interest of patients. The report also recommends that academic medical centers:

  • Establish mechanisms to identify physician-industry financial relationships and evaluate their potential to bias the clinical decision-making of physicians
  • Consider payments for services, royalties, and ownership when assessing individual related financial interests
  • Set thresholds for physician reporting and institutions’ evaluation of reported interests
  • Make available to their patient communities and the public information on the industry relationships of their physicians, their value, and efforts to mitigate any bias resulting from these relationships.

The report also urges teaching hospitals to involve patients in helping them determine what information about physician-industry ties is useful to them and how it should be presented to specific patient groups.

This report is the third and final report by the AAMC on managing financial conflicts of interest. The first two reports focused on conflicts of interest in research and medical education settings.

Source: Association of American Medical Colleges