Tuesday, February 18, 2014

25 days to go in Illinois

In 25 days, the president of the University of Illinois is due to receive the report from the Vice President for Research that will evaluate the circumstances surrounding the use of the University's name and reputation in support of a private medical equipment supplier.  Recall that the VP was charged to "conduct a methodical assessment of policies, guidelines, procedures and practices, and where corrective changes are required we will take the appropriate action."

I know how things are sometimes left to the last minute in academia, so I thought I'd offer now some suggested questions that might be answered in this report.

1) Were the individuals in the advertisement told that their images would be used for that purpose?
2) Did they sign a release form clearly delineating that purpose?
3) Was each individual given the opportunity to not appear in the ad?
4) Who was the photographer who took the picture that appeared in the ad and the other pictures that were taken at this time? Was this person a University employee?
5) Where are the images stored? Are they in possession of the University or a private company? If the latter, does it retain the right to use the photographs?

6) The Executive Director of University Relations said: Our request [to ask Intuitive to suspend the ad] was based on a business decision; we were concerned that the ad was not benefiting UI Health. This suggests that someone at the University previously decided that the ad would benefit UI Health. Who was this person? What was the process used to make this business determination? What approval process was used to allow the private company to use the University's name and reputation?  How did the process address--and get an exception from--the specific language from the Campus Administrative Manual:

In general, the University cannot permit its image to be used in any commercial announcement, in a commercial or artistic production, including the World Wide Web or in any other context where endorsement of a product, organization, person, or cause is explicitly or implicitly conveyed.

7) Were there other advertisements, beyond the New York Times ad, of a similar nature?  What were they, and where did they appear?  If so, as above, who was this person who decided that the ads would benefit UI Health? What was the process used to make this business determination and reconcile it with the University's rules and regulations concerning use its name and reputation?

8) What is the full range of compensation and other financial support received by individuals, the department of surgery, or other departments at the University from Intuitive Surgery? Include direct payments; research grants or other support; education grants or other support; donations of equipment and supplies; discounted prices for equipment and supplies; and payments of honoraria, speakers' fees, and travel expenses for appearances by UI faculty at other conferences in the country supported in whole or in part by Intuitive surgery.

9) Is there any advance review of such financial support?  If so, what is the process for such review?  Are all these amounts reported in public reports? If so, where? What is the process to ensure that those reports are accurate and complete? Who is the responsible individual for such matters? Does the Internal Audit office, or another independent office, ever review compliance with these matters?

10) To what extent is the University's emphasis on robotic surgery responsible for the fact that the surgical residency program at UIC is currently under probation by the ACGME, the national accreditation body?

11) How will the report address the issue of the propriety of the Dean of Medicine being on the board of Novartis, specifically: How can this person exercise a proper duty of care and loyalty to both institutions, not only in terms of time commitment, but also in terms of the overlapping scientific research and clinical interests of the two organizations?

12) Has the President made a commitment to release this report publicly to the University community, the state's elected officials, and beyond?  If not, under what grounds would the report be withheld from the public?


Anonymous said...

The same add appeared in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings of all places.

R said...

In regards to #2 I'm aware of at least one non-profit health system in Washington State that is presenting a unconditional model release in the hiring packet that HR sent after her contract was signed. Since it wasn't in her contract the person who asked me about the model release declined to sign it.

She didn't encounter any repercussions but I wonder about staff who aren't heavily recruited specialists getting routinely pressured into signing model releases. I wonder if collecting model releases from new hires has become routine practice in some institutions.

Anonymous said...

Perfect questions. Also, did the Board of Trustees have a policy of review such business arrangements as part of their oversight of University management? If so, did they review this agreement? The Dean's agreement? etc. You would think there would be some oversight responsibility. Or maybe a committee of the Legislature?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for following this and keeping us updated!

Mitch said...

Great post, keep after them, This was a terrible lapse of ethics and judgement.