Implications for Health Care Reform

The Dartmouth Atlas provides shocking data about the prevalence of spine surgery here.

If you’re interested in how surgeons and device manufacturers wound up in bed together, you’ll want to have a look at the website for the Association of Medical Ethics. Take some time to study the section called AME Star Rating System, which rates the value of the medical evidence produced in clinical trials. As you will discover, much of the data is practically useless. The AME Star Rating System provides an easy-to-use report card on products, procedures, and devices. It also tells you how much surgeons have been paid to consult on a specific product. If you want to see how surgery for lumbar disc degeneration stacks up, click here.

The investigative reporting organization called ProPublica is creating an increasingly robust and truly eye-opening source of information regarding the payments that drug and device companies make to doctors in return for promoting their drugs. This database—broken down by state, which is more convenient—has been assembled by the superb investigative reporters at ProPublica. Start with this article that explains how patients can use the database. The database is here.