U. of Minnesota surgeon gets warning for not disclosing Medtronic work

A top spine surgeon at the University of Minnesota is speaking out after receiving a "cautionary letter" from the medical school's dean saying he had violated ethics policies by not consistently disclosing work he did for Medtronic ($MDT).

The rebuke comes at the recommendation of an internal review committee, which found Dr. David Polly failed to disclose his paid relationship with Medtronic on three occasions. The committee reviewed Polly's case after Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) fired off a series of letters to university officials in 2009. The school is not taking disciplinary action against Polly.

Polly has owned up to the three omissions. "I did come up short in three circumstances," he said, as quoted in the Pioneer Press. "There were some I's that I didn't dot and T's that I didn't cross." Still, trying to force researchers to remember and adhere to all of the new disclosure rules could lead to a chilling in collaboration between physicians and medical devicemakers, in his estimation, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

He adds that he hasn't done work for Medtronic since 2009.

Polly's collaboration with Medtronic came under scrutiny after a whistle-blower lawsuit named him and other surgeons, leading Grassley to take a closer look at his work. Medtronic has come under fire for its paying spine surgeons to help develop and improve medical devices.

In a prepared statement, Grassley said the review of Polly's disclosure track record highlights the need for more transparency on the subject. "Universities that don't enforce disclosure and doctors who find excuses to avoid disclosure won't trump transparency," Grassley said, as quoted by the Pioneer Press. "Doctors like Dr. Polly who think it's so onerous or confusing to disclose the money they receive will be able to rely on the manufacturer, who's paying them, to figure it out."

- read this story from the Pioneer Press
- here's more from the Pioneer Press
- get the Star-Tribune's take