The doctors' group, which boasts 12,000 members, has joined a growing number ofacademic medical centers, professional societies and legislators that have decided gifts from the pharmaceutical industry are questionable, if not unacceptable forms of influence.
The Wisconsin Medical Society adopted a policy on October 11 that says: "Physicians shall accept no gifts from any provider of products that they prescribe to their patients such as personal items, office supplies, food, travel and time costs, or payment for participation in online continuing medical education. A complete ban eases the burdens of compliance, biased decision making, and patient distrust." This is the complete policy, which was disclosed this past Thursday.
In a statement, WMS president Steven Bergin says: "This policy is strong and clear. It leaves no doubt that the society’s physicians want to prevent even the impression that a gift–no matter how small–could get in the way of a physician’s decision-making.
"This policy simply puts the Wisconsin Medical Society on record that individual physicians should take a bright line approach to accepting items from companies that make products or drugs that the physician might end up prescribing or recommending to his or her patients. There’s nothing more sacred than the physician-patient relationship, and we physicians have the responsibility to make sure nothing gets in the way of that relationship–or even appears to get in the way.”