Tag Archives: Wisconsin State Journal

New Wisc. rules lead to interesting disclosures

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism, and he has blogged for Covering Health ever since.

Thanks to new disclosure requirements from the University of Wisconsin’s doctor group, the Wisconsin State Journal‘s David Wahlberg was able to report that 10 UW-Madison doctors received $48,000 or more from drug and device companies.

Thomas Zdeblick, M.D., pulled in almost $1.7 million. In fact, most of them were orthopedic surgeons, a fact which shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s been following the State Journal‘s conflict-of-interest work, as well as that of the Journal Sentinel‘s John Fauber.

Before 2010, doctors only had to report that they’d received more than $20,000 from such industry associations. Now, they have to disclose specific amounts. The disclosure requirements are currently the most prominent component of the schools’ crackdown of conflicts of interest, but activists say conflict disclosure is only half the battle.

A policy adopted in 2009 by the UW Medical Foundation, the university’s doctor group, bans doctors from doing promotional speeches for companies and accepting gifts such as free meals. Surgeons, however, can use materials created by device companies to conduct government-required training sessions, Golden said.
The foundation’s policy prohibits doctors from receiving royalties for using products at UW Health, which removes any incentive to use the doctors’ products instead of others, Golden said.

An interesting side note: UW clinics post signs detailing how patients can obtain their doctor’s disclosure form, but such requests have been few and far between, Wahlberg found “14 in 2009, 18 in 2010 and seven” in 2011.

Wahlberg offers advice on avoiding unfortunate incident

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates social media efforts of AHCJ and assists with the editing and production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

It’s the kind of call every journalist dreads.

David Wahlberg, of the Wisconsin State Journal, writes that a call from the medical examiner to his editor on July 22 started the worst day of his 22-year journalism career.

David Wahlberg

David Wahlberg

A patient featured in his front-page story about a new treatment for brain aneurysms, who was quoted as saying she felt “fantastic” after having the procedure, had died six days before the article was published. She died from a hemorrhage in a different part of her brain from where her aneurysm had been and other factors may have contributed to the bleeding. But when Wahlberg wrote the story, the patient was at home, doing well, with no warning signs.

In a forthright article for AHCJ, Wahlberg explains how this unfortunate episode happened, explores ways it could have been avoided and shares lessons for both journalists and health care providers. Read more …