Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fool Me Once, Shame on Me! Fool Me Twice Shame on You!

Late this afternoon, it was reported in the WSJ that Jeffrey Wang has lost his position as executive director at the UCLA Spine Center. In addition to this action, he is being investigated by the school for allegedly failing to disclose that he was paid by various companies (Medtronic, Paradigm, FzioMed, Facet Solutions, and DePuy Spine) whose products he was working on.

In a 6-7 year period, Dr. Wang failed to notify the state and the medical school that he was receiving consulting payments, stock options and royalties from the five aforementioned companies. Whether Dr. Wang is entitled to compensation is not an issue. The failure to report these relationships is a violation of university guidelines. Therein "lies" the problem.

The SpineBlogger has raised this question in a previous blogs, how does an intelligent and successful surgeon continue to exhibit a pattern of failing to abide by the disclosure rules of the state and university. One can argue that in a free-market Dr. Wang is entitled to earn whatever the industry affords him for his services. Unfortunately, as an employee of UCLA he is held to a different standard as an employee of the University. The bottom line is that as an employee the University owns his mind. At this juncture the University is considering other sanctions.

Dr. Wang has established a stellar reputation in our industry. Maybe, its time he start thinking about private practice. Maybe now some people are beginning to understand why our industry is being scrutinized under the watchful eye of the DOJ, the SpineBlogger wants to know what you think?


  1. Moral issues aside, these companies need to ask what they are getting for their hard-earned money other than bad publicitiy, lawsuits, and one more big ego feeding at the trough.

    I fail to see the business model behind feeding these guys. The concept of "surgeon champions" for a product or a company holds little meaning any more. Dr. Wang and similar high-profile surgeons have sold their reputations to the highest bidder long ago - and everyone knows it. UCLA just figured it out a bit late.

  2. I remember being at a spine meeting and Zdeblick was at the podium presenting the "advantages" of a Medtronic cervical plate. I asked a surgeon I was sitting next to what he thought, and he said Zdeblick is a company guy. Can't believe a word he says. So what are these companies getting from these "big time" surgeons that seem to be at the podium more than in the OR?