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Feds continue to document payments by device makers to surgeons

Still wondering why that recent hospital procedure was so expensive?  Maybe it was the several thousand dollar cost of the medical device used by the surgeon.  Wondering why that cost so much?  Maybe because some surgeons earn nearly a quarter million dollars annually with payments from medical device makers.  A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine examining the disclosures of five major medical device manufacturers showed that they paid surgeons more than $198 million dollars in 2007, alone.  The data comes from a U.S. Senate investigation sparked by disclosures that Medtronic had paid surgeons to promote the use of it's since-discredited bone-growth implant Infuse and perhaps fudged their data on infections and complications.

These findings were derived from data released after these five largest orthopaedic implant manufacturers settled an illegal "kickback" probe with the U.S. Department of Justice in 2007.  The following year, with new reporting guidelines in place, the three companies that continued to report identified only half as many payments to doctors, but the average payment increased from $212,000.00 annually to $233,000.00.  Some industry and surgical spokespersons claim that receipt of this money does not influence the behavior of the surgeons involved.


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