Companies must not sway doctors

The potential for doctors to have financial conflicts of interest regarding investment in medical equipment has come into question as this information becomes publicly available, according to a recent Star Tribune report. 
 
Doctors throughout the United States, including 75 in Minnesota, have been shown to be receiving compensation from investments they hold in health care companies. This could be an issue, since there is an obvious incentive to lean toward referring patients to utilize equipment they have a vested financial interest in. 
 
This conflict recently came to light when new Open Payments data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services began revealing these relationships.
 
Unfortunately, investment is not the only potential conflict. Established in part because of the Affordable Care Act, the program has uncovered various other kickbacks including free conference travel and other forms of gifts. 
 
In Minnesota, this isn’t the first time this potential conflict has come into question. In 1992, a law was passed to outlaw doctors from using certain products for payment, but specifics of the law were never created.
 
We are troubled by these findings and urge Minnesota legislators and health care regulators to take a closer look at this issue. In the wake of the Dan Markingson case at the University of Minnesota, where some have alleged pharmaceutical company influence to have played a role in his suicide, it is clear that there are still bioethical issues to resolve as health care and business continue to synergize.