Physician Payments Sunshine Act database: Which specialties receive the highest payments?

The Physician Payments Sunshine Act was finalized in 2013. The UC San Diego School of Medicine recently conducted a study of the Open Payments database to determine which physician specialties received the highest amount of consulting fees, gifts, speaking fees, meals, travel and research grants from pharmaceutical and medical device companies, according to a News-Medical report.

The researchers analyzed 2.4 million physician payments doled out during the last five months of 2013, a total of $475 million. General payments represented 90 percent of total payments, with research payments accounting for the remaining 10 percent.

Cardiovascular specialists (78 percent) and neurosurgeons (77 percent) were the most likely to receive general payment, but internal medicine physicians and orthopedic surgeons received the greatest total value of payments at $111 million for each specialty.

The study indicated specialties requiring more intervention, such as cardiology, orthopedics and gastroenterology, tend to receive higher payments due to the reliance on devices, according to the report.

The study authors indicated the next step would be to determine whether industry payment affects physicians' decision-making.

The full study was published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

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