Cleveland Clinic Goes Public with Industry TiesDec 4, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP
Ohio’s Cleveland Clinic is making public any industry ties its physicians, scientists, and physician/scientists have with drug companies and device makers. The Associated Press noted that the move by the Cleveland Clinic was made to ensure it is not involved in any medical conflicts of interest. The Cleveland Clinic is a not-for-profit, multi-specialty academic medical center with a facility in Ohio and another in Florida.
The Cleveland Clinic explained that it has posted on its Website a current directory of all its physicians, scientists, and physician/scientists, listing not only their educational and professional backgrounds and their medical specializations, but their relationships with industry, as well. A Cleveland Clinic press released explained that once the site is accessed, visitors can simply click “find a doctor" and fill in the physician's last name. This will provide access to the names of those drug and device companies with which each physician, scientist, and physician/scientist maintains collaborations. According to the press release, this information will let viewers see if the medical professional on which they are seeking information has “equity, the right to royalties, a fiduciary position, or a consulting relationship that pays” in excess of $5,000 annually.
The Cleveland Clinic says that its process for locating and handling potential conflicts of interests is handled by its Innovation Management and Conflict of Interest Committee. Professionals must submit information on their industry relationships, it noted, and the Committee follows-up with painstaking research, review, and determinations. “We want our patients to have abundant information about our physicians and let them decide what’s relevant to their situations. As far as we are aware, Cleveland Clinic will be the first academic medical center in the U.S. to disclose to its patients and the public the industry ties of its physicians,” said Joseph Hahn, M.D., Chief of Staff, Cleveland Clinic.
The Cleveland Clinic also announced that it would be—for the most part—allowing patients who ask to see their records access to those records during their stays at the Clinic. “Giving patients access to timely information that may be relevant to their individual circumstances is essential to achieving a positive patient experience,” said Delos M. “Toby” Cosgrove, MD, President and CEO, Cleveland Clinic. “Patients today value the availability of data and information they can use in making informed decisions about their healthcare. Cleveland Clinic is doing its part to ensure patients have access to the information they deem necessary,” added Cosgrove, clearly a boon to consumers who have been plagued with headlines rife with medical conflicts of interests in recent months.
The Cleveland Clinic combines clinical care, hospital care, research, and education says MarketWatch, which adds that it was founded in 1921 and that U.S. News & World Report have consistently named the Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation's best hospitals in its popular, annual "America's Best Hospitals" report.
The Cleveland Clinic and Cleveland Clinic Florida maintain about 1,800 full-time salaried physicians and researchers covering over 100 medical specialties and sub-specialties, reports MarketWatch, which noted that there were 3.5 million outpatient visits and 50,455 hospital admissions to the Cleveland Clinic facilities last year alone, with patients visiting from every state and over 80 countries.