Physician ownership of companies that sell devices that are subsequently implanted into the owner-physician's patients are a threat to patient safety and pose a high risk of financial fraud, according to a special fraud alert issued March 26 by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) (http://tinyurl.com/csf3xp4).
The warning is the latest communication from the OIG indicating that arrangements through which physicians profit from use of a particular device by implanting it themselves or referring patients to others for implantation may pose a serious conflict of interest and violate federal law. The alert focuses on so-called physician-owned distributorships (PODs), which are “entities that derive revenue from selling or arranging the sale of implantable medical devices ordered by their physician-owners” for use on the physician-owners' patients at a hospital or ambulatory surgical center.
Kuehn BM. HHS: Physician-Owned Device Firms a Fraud Risk. JAMA. 2013;309(16):1670. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.4236