Attorney Jeffrey D. DeCarlo Comments on Report about Payments from Drug Companies to Doctors and Hospitals

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Drug injury attorney Jeffrey D. DeCarlo of Jeffrey D. DeCarlo, P.A., said patients have a right to know whether their doctors and hospitals have a financial relationship with a big pharmaceutical company.

When money and benefits flow from these big pharmaceutical companies to doctors and hospitals, there is a potential risk to patients.

A news report that drug and medical device companies paid doctors and hospitals billions of dollars in 2013 raises serious questions about potential conflicts of interest that may pose a risk to public safety, according to drug injury attorney Jeffrey D. DeCarlo.

Commenting on an Associated Press report in usnews.com, DeCarlo, a personal injury lawyer with over 19 years’ experience, said he understands that doctors and leading hospitals received research grants, travel junkets and other payments and benefits totaling nearly $3.5 billion (usnews.com, “Gov’t data on industry’s relationships with doctors, leading hospitals shows $3.5B in payments,” Sept. 30, 2014). The dollar figure represented a five-month period from August through December 2013, according to usnews.com.

“This is troubling news for anyone who is treated by a doctor or hospital,” DeCarlo said. “When money and benefits flow from these big pharmaceutical companies to doctors and hospitals, there is a potential risk to patients. For example, a doctor who is in the pocket of a big drug company may push a certain type of medication that the patient doesn’t necessarily need. A hospital may put pressure on doctors to perform surgeries that may be unnecessary.”

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released the information that names companies and many of the recipients, according to the usnews.com. The information was released as part of President Obama’s Open Payments initiative, which is required by the health care law.

“While the data raises some serious concerns about potential conflicts of interest, the good news for all consumers is that this government initiative represents a new level of transparency,” DeCarlo said. “We welcome efforts by government officials to shine light on the relationships between doctors and pharmaceutical companies.”

The news report states that 546,000 clinicians and 1,360 teaching hospitals received benefits. The likeliest to receive payments from drug companies includes orthopedists, cardiologists and adult medicine specialists, according to the report.

The release of the data drew criticism from the American Medical Association, which stated the data may contain inaccuracies and lacks context to help the average person evaluate the information, according to usnews.com.

According to usnews.com, John Santa, the medical director for health projects with Consumers Union, said research shows that financial relationships – even a meal – can influence doctors.

Attorney DeCarlo said he understands that doctors, who might not be used to such scrutiny, may feel uncomfortable with their private financial relationships being made public.

“With time, I think the doctors will find that this type of transparency will benefit them as well as the patient,” DeCarlo said. “They may get questions they are not used to hearing from their patients about why a drug is being prescribed or why a procedure is being recommended. This is an opportunity for the doctor to provide context for the patient and for the doctor to reflect on whether the relationship with the pharmaceutical company is truly benefitting the patient.”

DeCarlo said patients who suffer injuries or families who lose loved ones because of dangerous drugs should seek legal counsel. An attorney can help pursue compensation for losses and send a message that careless or reckless behavior by pharmaceutical companies will not be tolerated.

About Jeffrey D. DeCarlo, P.A.
Attorney Jeffrey D. DeCarlo is a nationally recognized pharmaceutical injury lawyer who has protected the rights of injury victims for over 15 years. His office is in Miami, Fla., but he serves clients throughout the State of Florida and the United States. Attorney Jeffrey D. DeCarlo is a member of both the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, reserved for a small percentage of attorneys who have secured multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. In addition to handling dangerous drug claims, attorney Jeffrey D. DeCarlo accepts cases involving medical malpractice, defective medical devices, car accidents and catastrophic personal injury.

Jeffrey D. DeCarlo, P.A.
4500 Biscayne Blvd #201
Miami, FL 33137
(305) 572-0065
http://www.decarlolaw.com

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