Background: The Physician Payments Sunshine Act was enacted to understand financial relationships with industry that might influence provider decisions. We investigated how industry payments within the congenital heart community relate to experience and reputation. Methods: Congenital cardiothoracic surgeons and pediatric cardiologists were identified from the Open Payments Database. All payments from 2013 through 2017 were matched to affiliated hospitals’ U.S. News & World Report (USNWR) rankings, The Society of Thoracic Surgeons-Congenital Heart Surgery Public Reporting Star Ratings, and Optum Center of Excellence (COE) designation. Surgeon payments were linked to years since terminal training. Univariable analyses were conducted. Results: The median payment amount per surgeon ($71; interquartile range [IQR], $41-$99) was nearly double the median payment amount per cardiologist ($41; IQR, $18-$84; P <.05). For surgeons, median individual payment was 56% higher to payees at USNWR top 10 children's hospitals ($100; IQR, $28-$203) vs all others ($64; IQR, $23-$140; P <.001). For cardiologists, median individual payment was 26% higher to payees at USNWR top 10 children's hospitals ($73; IQR, $28-$197) vs all others ($58; IQR, $19-$140; P <.001). Findings were similar across The Society of Thoracic Surgeons-Congenital Heart Surgery star rankings and Optum Center of Excellence groups. By surgeon experience, surgeons 0 to 6 years posttraining (first quartile) received the highest number of median payments per surgeon (17 payments; IQR, 6.5-28 payments; P <.001). Surgeons 21 to 44 years posttraining (fourth quartile) received the lowest median individual payment ($51; IQR, $20-132; P <.001). Conclusions: Industry payments vary by hospital reputation and provider experience. Such biases must be understood for self-governance and the delineation of conflict of interest policies that balance industry relationships with clinical innovation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine