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AMA News Room

Sept. 30, 2014

AMA Statement on Sunshine Act Data Release

For immediate release:
Sept. 30, 2014

Statement attributed to:
Robert M. Wah, MD
President, American Medical Association

"The American Medical Association (AMA) is committed to transparency and the availability of information for patients to make informed decisions about their medical care, which is why we supported the Sunshine Act.

"While we appreciate the efforts of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to verify the identification of physicians in each report from industry and to de-identify reports where there were discrepancies, we remain very concerned about the accuracy of the data released today.

"Only 26,000 physicians out of the nearly 550,000 physicians affected by the Sunshine Act were able to register to review their data and seek correction of any inaccuracies. CMS provided a short period of time to review and correct any inaccurate data that was submitted by industry. Several factors unfortunately hindered participation by many of the physicians impacted including a complex, non-user friendly and cumbersome registration process to review data and request corrections of any inaccuracies. Meanwhile, the government website was plagued by repeated shut downs and other issues. Notably, CMS has indicated problems with one-third of the data, which raises significant questions about the accuracy of the data content. 

"Patients deserve to have access to accurate information, yet publishing inaccurate data leads to misinterpretations, harms reputations and undermines the trust that patients have in their physicians. It can also discourage research and care delivery improvements that benefit patients.

"While the AMA strongly opposes inappropriate, unethical interactions between physicians and industry, there are relationships that can help drive innovation in patient care and provide significant resources for professional medical education that ultimately benefits patients.

"We look forward to working with CMS to improve the Open Payments system to ensure the data is presented in an accurate and informative way to help patients understand and interpret the information correctly."

Editor's Note: The AMA released a Guide to Media Reporting on the Sunshine Act data.

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Media Contact:
Randi Kahn
AMA Media & Editorial
(202) 789-7442

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