Will There Be a Place for Orthopedic and Spine Surgeon Relationships with Device Companies in the Future?

Original Post by Becker’s Spine Review on July 22, 2011 

Six orthopedic and spine surgeons and industry members discuss the current state of surgeon relationships with device companies and what might be in store for the future.
Todd Albert, MD, Spine Surgeon and President, Rothman Institute (Philadelphia). The short answer is there will be and there must be because this relationship is really important for innovation. We must figure out a way for surgeons to be involved and work in a compliant way with device companies. We acknowledge there is going to be a conflict of interest sometimes, but there’s a difference between working with companies on innovation and being cheerleaders for a particular company. Many surgeons are developing devices that are a significant contribution and they hold patents on devices as their intellectual property.

Tom Hackett, MD, Sports Medicine Surgeon, The Steadman Clinic (Vail, Colo.).
Absolutely, yes. I think the relationships are very important in terms of the development of new devices or improvements on old devices. I think those relationships, if they are managed properly, can be very fruitful, especially for patients. These relationships can also be beneficial for the surgeons and the device companies during product development. Many companies fund research and foster surgeon education. All of these relationships can be managed ethically by following the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons standards of professionalism. If surgeons follow those standards and adhere to the concept of full disclosure, there shouldn’t be a problem.