by | last updated on January 20, 2016
Conflicts of interest among healthcare professionals may arise because of relationships with pharmaceutical and medical supply companies. When doctors prescribe certain medications more often than others, or insist on use of particular medical supplies from a specific manufacturer, their connections to the companies may come under scrutiny and could even lead to allegations of healthcare fraud in some cases.There are several ways a doctor or healthcare professional may find themselves under investigation if a conflict of interest in the healthcare industry compromises patient safety or leads to kickbacks. During this time, it is important to have a Florida criminal defense attorney in Fort Lauderdale to ensure rights are protected.

Conflicts of Interest in Healthcare: Pharmaceutical Company Gifts

Sometimes, gifts from a pharmaceutical company can go above and beyond free samples and pamphlets. According to a report by Canadian researchers at York University published in 2008, pharmaceutical detailing and industry gifts account for more than 80 percent of the promotional expenditure budget of pharmaceutical industries.

Some lawsuits for healthcare fraud because of conflicts of interest have revealed that companies invite doctors to lavish parties and pay for premium accommodations at seminars.

Conflicts of Interest in Healthcare: Paid Speaking Engagements & Consulting

Sometimes pharmaceutical companies or healthcare providers will invite doctors to speak on their behalf at medical seminars. These speaking engagements are often laden with incentives such as free travel, premium hotel suites, and most importantly, speaker’s fees.

Companies also often seek doctors to join their ranks as consultants and pay quite well for the position. While paying doctors for speaking engagements or hiring them as consultants isn’t illegal, if they receive kickbacks for promoting or prescribing their products, then it may constitute healthcare fraud. The conflict of interest may even be considered troubling in terms of patient care.

Dangers of Conflicts of Interest in Healthcare

Many have alleged that patient care can suffer because of relationships between doctors and pharmaceutical companies or medical device manufacturers. For example, the ASR XL metal-on-metal replacement hip, manufactured by Johnson & Johnson, was recently the focus of a lawsuit that resulted in an $8.3 million settlement.

As noted by Dr. Robert Pearl in an article for the Wall Street Journal, the device, which was used in thousands of hip replacement surgeries, had an unacceptable failure rate. The lawsuit claimed “paid consultants were reluctant to report the failures publically, resulting in unnecessary pain and suffering for many patients who continued to receive the metal-on-metal implant…” Cases such as these have led many to believe that the doctors placed their finances before patient health and safety.

In some cases, a conflict of interest could even be considered fraudulent if the doctor exchanges referrals or prescription of particular products for kickbacks.

A Florida Criminal Defense Attorney in Fort Lauderdale Can Help if Facing Accusations of Healthcare Fraud

If a conflict of interest in the healthcare industry leads to charges of healthcare fraud in Florida, a criminal defense attorney in Fort Lauderdale can help address the allegations. Contact Robert David Malove to review the details of the conflict of interest and alleged healthcare fraud.