Probing Conflicts for Physicians Between Patient Safety and Medical Professionalism

conflict-of-interests-physicians-professionalismSome doctors involved in writing a 2002 Physician Charter intended to guide medical professionalism in the new millennium, face questions about their own professionalism in light of conflicts of interest in their professional choices.

The charter, published simultaneously in the Annals of Internal Medicine and The Lancet, was the result of several years’ work by leaders in the ABIM Foundation, the ACP–ASIM Foundation, and the European Federation of Internal Medicine. It contains three foundational principles and 10 commitments for physicians, according to Dr. Harold Sox, then editor of the Annals of Internal Medicine. But a recent posting on questions conflicts of interest faced by physicians, some of whom were involved in the charter project. reports that CareFusion, maker of ChloraPrep surgical skin antiseptic, was fined $40 million by the Justice Department because of kickbacks paid to Dr. Charles Denham, a member of the National Quality Forum’s board. Dr. Christine Cassell, former president of the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) and current president and CEO of the National Quality Forum also served as a paid consultant to several organizations that could benefit from the  initiatives created by the National Quality Forum. Dr. Cassell was with the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) at the time of the charter’s publication.

Other conflicts pointed out in the MassDevice post include that of charter author Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, who is president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Though Dr. Lavizzo-Mourey does not practice medicine, MassDevice reports, she did not recuse herself from an article on medical professionalism. Dr. Walter McDonald. McDonald, another of the charter’s authors, serves as executive vice president and CEO of the ACP-ASIM (American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine) and is also senior vice president for QHc Advisory Group, LLC, a health care consulting organization.

To truly advance patient safety, MassDevice says organizations like the National Quality Forum cannot tolerate board members receiving kickbacks and they must clean house of consultant arrangements that pose clear conflicts of interest for physicians.



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