65% of patients see physicians who've accepted money from drug, device industry

About two-thirds of Americans have visited a physician who received payments from a drug or medical device company in the past year, according to a new study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

For the study, researchers polled a nationally representative survey of 3,542 adults between September and October 2014. They also analyzed data on the respondents' physicians using Open Payments — a government website that lists payments physicians receive from the drug and medical device industry, according to Science Daily.

Open Payments was launched as part of the ACA's Physician Payment Sunshine Act. While the website had not yet begun releasing data at the time of the study, researchers accessed available data on "Sunshine states" like Minnesota or Vermont, through Pro Publica and disclosures from drug and device companies.

Here are five study findings.

1. While 65 percent of patients surveyed had seen a physician who received payments, only 5 percent of respondents were aware of this information.

2. Patients who visited specialists were more likely to see a physician who had been paid by the drug or device industry. Researchers found 85 percent of patients who saw an orthopedic surgeon and 77 percent who visited an obstetrician or gynecologist had seen a physician who accepted drug or device industry payments.

3. The amount of the payments also varied greatly. While Open Payments showed physicians in the U.S. accepted a median of $193 in payments and gifts over the last year, the median payment amount for physicians included in the study was $510 — more than two and a half times the national average, according to the report.

4. Only 12 percent of respondents were aware payment information for their physicians was available online.

5. Respondents from Sunshine states — where transparent information on physician payments has long been available — were less likely (34 percent) to visit a physician who had received payments than those from other states (66 percent).

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