PODs under attack again: 5 key notes from the Senate Finance Committee's report

Written by Laura Dyrda | May 10, 2016 | Print  | Email

The Senate Finance Committee released a new report on physician-owned distributorships, focusing on spine surgeons.

Here are five key notes:

 

1. The report said PODs "present an inherent conflict of interest that can put the physician's medical judgment at odds with the patient's best interests."

 

2. The POD surgeons saw 24 percent more patients than non-POD surgeons. In absolute numbers, POD surgeons performed fusion surgery on nearly twice as many patients — 91 percent more — than the non-POD surgeons, according to the report. POD surgeons performed a much higher rate — 44 percent higher — than non-POD surgeons as a percentage of patients seen.

3. Recommendations outlined in the report include:

 

• A federal law requiring physicians to disclose ownership or family member ownership in private device companies to hospitals and patients
• Federal agencies to boost enforcement actions
• CMS and OIG examination of current guidance on PODs

 

The recommendations were noted in a Wall Street Journal report.

 

4. HHS OIG reports and the Senate Finance Committee analyses suggest POD physicians overutilize spinal implants, according to the report, and overutilization could result in higher costs for the healthcare system and Medicare.

 

The report states, "While surgeons may contend that they replace such hardware for purely medical reasons, they would receive payout from installing the POD hardware. Our concerns about medically unnecessary services are especially acute in the case of seniors who, due to their age, are less physically capable of withstanding the rigors of complex, invasive spine surgery."

 

5. Their report notes a lack of transparency in the POD industry and questions whether PODs comply with financial disclosure requirements. The report indicated anecdotal evidence shows some PODs are working to obfuscate financial relationships with physicians to avoid CMS and hospital reporting requirements.

 

More articles on orthopedic devices:
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