HCMC makes the right call

ED physician is employed by a county subsidized medical center. Check. ED doc works part time as a sherrif’s deputy. Check. ED physician on the dole as a “researcher” for a private company which produces tasers for law enforcement. Check. ED doc promotes said taser product and is reimburesed handsomely. Check. County-run medical center is subjected to conflict-of-interest policies, as well as an erosion of trust among the community it serves. County-run med center decides to take action.

Dr. Jeffrey Ho, head of Emergency Medical Services at the Twin Cities safety-net hospital HCMC, has worked as a paid consultant for Axon Enterprise Inc. for 14 years, the past 10 as the company’s at-large medical director. Per the most recent agreement, Ho dedicated at least 32 hours per month to studying Axon products, most of which focused on the company’s signature weapon, the Taser stun gun. Axon reimburses the hospital at least $140,000 per year, according to HCMC records. (…)

The hospital did not previously cite Ho’s role with Axon on its website, though officials said Ho disclosed the relationship internally and he did not violate any rules. Several elected officials have since called for hospital leadership to update its conflict-of-interest policy in response.

Sen. Jeff Hayden credited Dr. John Cumming, Hennepin Healthcare’s interim CEO, with taking “decisive action” after he and others raised concerns over ethical “loopholes” the relationship exposed. Hayden said he took issue with HCMC being “in bed” with the manufacturer of a product that is used to inflict harm on people.


Michael L. Douglas @doctorpundit

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