Iowa Does the Right Thing on COI - They started in January of this year
This kind of behavior has become a hallmark of our medical school. Although some of the blame can be laid at the feet of the former dean, our new dean Dr. Frank Cerra, continues in this tradition - see below.
UIHC puts kibosh on freebies
Medical-industry conventions typically offer myriad goodies for attendees: dizzying displays of free pens, post-it pads, and doughnuts resting in front of panels of advertisements for new drugs or lab equipment.
Seems innocent enough? Under a new conflict-of-interest policy, they will soon become memories for staff members at the UI Hospitals and Clinic.
The new policy has been in place one week. It requires UIHC staff, faculty, and students to report any gifts they received from outside businesses, such as medical-equipment vendors or drug companies, through an online External Relationships Disclosure Form.
Furthermore, industry exhibitions and private gifts -- including travel stipends, special free meals, and product samples -- are goners.
"I think people understand the problem," said Jennifer Niebyl, UI professor of gynecology and obstetrics, who helps enforce the policy.
The goal is to reinforce "the highest possible ethical standards and to foster greater transparency," said Deborah Thoman, an assistant vice president for compliance and accreditation.
All staff, faculty, and students receiving paychecks from the hospital will need to fill out the disclosure form by Sept. 1. The collected data will be then displayed publicly online, contrary to current guidelines, which keep them confidential.
"Making the disclosure process open is a step to ensure patients can be confident their health-care providers are not influenced by any self-interest," Thoman said. "Our new, strengthened policy allows faculty and staff to advance teaching, service, and research [while] avoiding real or perceived conflicts of interest."
The UIHC began a review of its conflict-of-interest policy in January, because of growing national attention on several reports of conflicts of interest at other universities, including a case at Stanford involving a researcher who lied about the amount of money he received from companies. While no similar cases have been discovered at UI, officials are confident the new policy will prevent any from happening in the future.
Niebyl said the staff seems to have been supportive so far.
"We have heard very, very few complaints," she said. "Nobody has [yet] criticized the policy."
Talk is a lot cheaper at the U of M, e.g.
"I think we need to put ourselves in the position of acting according to the highest ethical principles. I believe our people do that now and I believe our people will be doing that in the future as well." President Bruininks (Daily: 6-18-08)
At Minnesota we are in no hurry according to new dean, Frank Cerra.
And so what kind of timeline are you working on? Is there a goal for what Regents meeting you'd like to bring the policy to? (Daily)
Not really. I think we're more interested in a more deliberative, thorough approach where we listen to people and then take forward to the institution some recommendations, because ultimately the institution has to decide what it wants as well as everybody who works in the community. And that's the stage we're at now. (Dr. Cerra)
So there's no rush to get it done? (Daily)
No, I think it's better we get it to come out the right way than to just kind of push something through for the sake of a new policy. There are a number of very important issues that I think need to be discussed in a collegial environment. (Dr. Cerra)
I think we're also in the midst of preparing a position statement on the value added from relationships between faculty and the institution and industry where there is really clear value added. (Dr. Cerra)
The University of Minnesota Medical School Unofficial Anthem: