Emergency Physicians are Mostly Just Hungry

Starving – but not for money – is probably the best way to sum up these descriptive statistics from CMS Open Payments.

This is simply a summary and breakdown of the 2014 calendar years’ worth of physician payments from industry, as reported to Open Payments.  This includes a range of details, from as mundane items as free snacks to large institutional grants for research.  All told, there were 46,405 payments to 12,883 emergency physicians, or approximately 1/3rd of all practicing EM physicians.  39,774 of these payments were related to “Food and Beverage”, and typically between $10 and $50.

So, most EM physicians are just hungry.

However, such food-related expenses were just 12.2% of the total pharmaceutical spend on EM physicians.  The two highest-grossing categories were 1,257 physicians with lecture fees and 833 with consulting fees, averaging over $1000 each.  The products associated with the greatest number and/or largest payments were antibiotics and anti-thrombotics, mostly: rivaroxaban, apixaban, dabigatran, ticagrelor, alteplase, ceftaroline, and linezolid.  Rather unexpectedly to me, at least, a few of the other top spots were taken up by agents for glycemic control: insulin detemir, canagliflozin, and liraglutide.

Finally, EM physicians were actually fairly low on the payout list, compared with other specialties, ranking 25th of 28th evaluated by this study.  The “winners”, if it weren’t already obvious from your hospital parking garage: orthopedic surgery, cardiology, endocrinology, allergy & immunology, gastroenterology, and urology.

“Financial Ties Between Emergency Physicians and Industry: Insights From Open Payments Data”