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Travel, meals, lobbying - All in a $4,000 day's work


A condensation of an article - with emphasis - that appeared in today's Star-Tribune may be found on my other site: The Periodic Table.


"In 2006, for example, he took 14 trips to meetings in places such as Japan, Paris and Phoenix, billing $187,313 for travel and preparation."

"The documents reveal that the doctors can be paid for activities that seem to have little to do with surgery or medical practice."

"We are investigating specific charges for which Dr. Polly billed us, and determining whether or not they fit our standards and policies, and if newly enhanced standards are required," Medtronic spokesman Steve Cragle said in a statement.

In 2006, for example, the year that Polly received his most compensation, $358,588, he billed Medtronic on 233 days -- sometimes multiple times in one day.

On July 21, 2006, Hawkins (then chief operating officer) visited the operating room at Fairview-Riverside Medical Center. For that, Polly billed Medtronic $2,000.

In a statement last week, Cragle said that Hawkins frequently makes trips to view surgical procedures involving the company's products. "In this case, [he] was unaware that Medtronic would be billed," Cragle said.

Several entries indicate that Polly was discussing topics such as the cost-effectiveness of medical devices and "lobbying" members of Congress for better care for the nation's veterans.

On April 15, 2005, he charged $1,000 (a sum later reduced to $500) to meet with U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., on new technologies to treat veterans injured in the Iraq war.

In September 2005, he participated with the company's public relations team to craft a "media blitz" before a meeting of the North American Spine Society, a premier event in the spine field. The entry states that Polly called patients on Medtronic's behalf and then charged the company $375.

And so it goes...

About that conflict of interest policy, Frank?

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