Lisa Chedekel of the Connecticut Health I-Team reports that, even as doctors are investigated and disciplined for violating medical conduct rules – including over-prescribing – they have collected thousands of dollars from pharmaceutical companies for meals, speaking or consulting work.
Chedekel used records from Connecticut’s Department of Public Health and public disclosures from pharmaceutical manufacturers: “A check of physician records shows about a dozen Connecticut doctors receiving drug company benefits either shortly before or after being sanctioned by the state for various offenses.”
Her reporting reveals a doctor received payments from three drug companies while he was being investigated for allegations that he over-medicated patients. Some of the payments continued after his license was suspended. Another doctor got payments from four companies while “federal prosecutors were investigating allegations that he wrote out 11 illegal prescriptions for controlled substances.”
Other doctors reaping the benefits from drug companies were disciplined for things that included failing to provide proper post-operative care, referring a patient for an MRI despite the fact the patient had a pacemaker, over-prescribing narcotics, allowing unlicensed employees to practice medicine and nursing and more.
Currently a dozen pharmaceutical manufacturers publicly disclose their payments to physicians. As Chedekel points out, many do so as the result of legal settlements with the government. Beginning in September 2013, such payments will be posted online in accordance with the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, though it’s not yet clear exactly how the law will be implemented.
Chedekel notes that ProPublica’s Dollars for Docs investigation also has revealed payments to doctors who had been accused of professional misconduct, had been disciplined or lacked credentials.