More ripples emanate from Senator Grassley's release of University of Minnesota orthopedist David Polly's records.
Back in 2005, Dr. David Polly participated in a review of a new technology in spine surgery by an influential nonprofit group.
After he concluded the work, the University of Minnesota expert submitted a bill for some of his time to Fridley-based Medtronic.
Four years later, leaders of the nonprofit group -- the Bloomington-based Institute for Clinical Systems, or ICSI -- say they wouldn't have let Polly participate in the review had they known about the billing arrangement. Technology reviews by ICSI are supposed to be impartial, they say, and a Medtronic device was among those being evaluated.
"I was shocked," said John Sakowski, the chief operating officer at ICSI, who learned of Polly's bill with the recent release of Polly's records by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.
Although surprised, Sakowski said ICSI is not accusing Polly of wrongdoing in the matter. The nonprofit group didn't specifically ask whether the surgeon was billing an interested party for working on the review, and ICSI said the results generated by the group were solid -- even with the apparent conflict of interest.
Medical ethicists say they have questions about how both ICSI and Polly acted during the episode, but they conclude that the moral of the story goes to a much broader point: Disclosure requirements throughout the health care industry have been woefully lacking.
Meantime, there a short but powerful letter to the editor in the StarTribune today that reads:
"As a Medtronic stockholder for over 20 years and a Minnesota taxpayer for 37, I'm not sure which bugs me more: Dr. David Polly for charging Medtronic these huge amounts, Medtronic for paying them or the University of Minnesota for condoning it."