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Time for Med Schools to Adopt Conflict of Interest Policies

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, October 16, 2013

"We actually have these standards," Susan Chimonas, lead author of the study, associate director of research at the Center on Medicine as a Profession at Columbia University, told me in a recent interview. "We've had three independent bodies of experts coming to basically the same conclusion about what these policies should look like or involve. Several years have gone by now and many schools are not coming even close to meeting those policies."

Some progress
In fairness, let's acknowledge that progress is being made and that many needles are pointed in the right direction. The survey examines CCOI policy changes from 2008–2011. As reported this week, in 2008, "no policy" was the most prevalent finding in all but one CCOI area. By 2011, the number of schools with no CCOI policies dropped from more than one quarter in 2008 to less than 2% in 2011.

Of the 12 areas examined for CCOI the survey found that the number of medical colleges in the "moderate" range more than doubled, from 14% to 30%, while the number of schools with strong policies in eight or more areas barely increased, from 1% in 2008 to 4% in 2011. Eighty-four percent of schools had substandard policies in seven or more areas.

Based on the progress demonstrated from 2008–2011 CCOI policies have gotten more stringent in the past two years that were beyond the IMAP review.

What's the delay?
While we can acknowledge successes, it is also fair to ask what's taking so long. Why aren't all medical colleges in compliance with these fairly straightforward CCOI policies? This is not a cure for cancer. It's a policy change that could be implemented with a pen stroke.

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