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Total Joint Replacement Educational Series Part 5: WHAT IS THE REAL RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PHYSICIANS AND IMPLANT MANUFACTURERS?

Posted Oct 10 2008 2:12pm
BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

In the news over the past few months, the relationship between physicians and implant manufacturers has received much attention, due to the litigation between the companies and the government.  You may have seen an article in the newspaper that listed certain implant companies and the dollar amount that physicians have received from these companies. These articles tend to be misleading and confusing to patients. For example, many times physicians are working directly with implant manufacturers to develop new implants, implement educational programs, and to conduct research leading to the development of new surgical techniques and technologies that may improve joint replacement surgery for patients. When physicians are working with the implant company, and receive some form of compensation, this is not an indication that the physicians have done anything wrong or violated any standards or professional codes. In fact, physicians are not rewarded for using a certain companies' implants nor are they obligated to use a certain implant.  Any compensation received is for services and input that the physician provides to the company to improve the surgical process and the patient's overall outcome. Physicians are permitted to offer "consulting" services to implant companies to improve patient care.  Many types of professionals are able to provide this same type of service, including those involved in engineering, law, or business, to name a few.

SO WHAT IS FACT FROM FICTION?

  • The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons supports the use of financial disclosures about the relationship between physicians and implant manufacturers, but would like the nature of the relationship to be disclosed as well so patients are not mislead as to why physicians may receive payment.
  • The recent agreement between implant companies and the government does not have anything to do with how physicians interact with patients or patient care.
  • Many different relationships exist between physicians and implant companies, including consultation, research, education, and developing new medical devices.
  • These relationships have led to improvements in the prosthetic devices themselves, as well as improved the surgical techniques, allowing total joint replacements to last longer and improve the quality of life of millions of patients.
  • The United States continues to be a leader in the development and improvement of orthopaedic procedure secondary the collaborating efforts of physicians and implant manufacturers.
  • The surgical technique and the approach to care are at least as important, if not more important than the type of implants.
  • Surgeons are happy to share with patients the type of implants used, and some patients even receive implants from two different companies.
  • Most physicians are not obligated or rewarded to use a certain company, but rather the compensation received is due to some type of work performed for the company.
  • If you are concerned about the type of relationship between your physician and an implant manufacturer, physicians will be more than happy to disclose this information to you.
For more information, please visit the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS)  www.aaos.org.

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