Editorial: Open Records Will Make U.S. Medicine Healthier

Staff Writer | Albuquerque Journal | October 6, 2014

If you were scheduled to have a medical device such as a knee or hip implanted, would you want to know if your surgeon and/or hospital had a financial relationship with one of the manufacturers?  Or if you were prescribed a new experimental drug, would you want to know if your provider was being paid by the maker to get you to take it?

The answers to both should be, of course. Because while either scenario can have absolutely valid explanations with patient well-being at their core, they can also involve serious conflicts of interest based on monetary rather than medical priorities.  Now, thanks to one of the successful components of the Affordable Care Act, you can find out what trips, research grants and honorarium are changing hands.

Make no mistake, they are. The new database, Open Payments, is run by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Just the partial list for August through December of last year reveals drug and medical device companies showered nearly $3.5 billion on physicians and hospitals via 4.4 million payments. As it is refined, it should include 12 months of data and allow patients to look up their own doctors...