Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Undisclosed financial ties

In a recent post about the controversy over the use and cost of femtosecond laser cataract surgery, I relied in part on an article in Review of Optometry.  In that article and my post, Dr. Eric Donnenfeld was quoted saying a number of positive things about this device and surgical technique, while other doctors took the opposing view.

What RO neglected to say, and what I failed to realize at the time, is that Dr. Donnenfeld is a consultant to Alcon, a manufacturer of this surgical device.  I found that disclosure here, from a recent continuing medical education conference.

RO also failed to mention that another doctor quoted in the story with positive comments about this technology, William Trattler, also has financial interests with Alcon.

Review of Optometry says it has the following mission:

Review of Optometry is committed to giving optometrists the information they need to provide their patients top-quality care in a personally rewarding practice environment. It is a magazine written for optometrists and by optometrists.

To be clear, there is nothing untoward about doctors having a financial relationship with equipment manufacturers, but it is wrong for a journal to fail to disclose such associations. Readers rely on authors and editors to make such associations evident.

It would also be wrong for a physician to fail to disclose such relationships to his or her patients, particularly when use of the equipment in question is associated with higher out-of-pocket costs to those patients. As noted in the RO article:

Any respectable OD would agree that communication is essential in virtually any patient relationship, but it’s particularly crucial with regards to what they can expect after femto cataract surgery, especially if those expectations—and their personal financial burden—is high.

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