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With pharmaceuticals becoming a high-risk area, some hospitals increasingly are focusing attention in this area. Many of them have tried to establish policies that express what they consider appropriate practices.
A case in point is Lovelace Health Systems in Albuquerque, NM. "We did a major roll-out of our gifts and favors policy," says Alison Maney, compliance officer at Lovelace. "We are probably one of the strictest in the nation."
Maney says the policy has met some resistance among the physician staff. However, physicians now are regularly calling to ask for guidance about what is permissible.
"We took a hard line in this area," says Maney. "We even cut out food in the clinics." She says physicians also were implored to be cautious on their own time. Physicians were warned that investigators sometimes will subpoena pharmaceutical company records and get the names of every provider who has been receiving gifts under the table.
Maney says she warned physicians that her role is to inform them of what is and is not legitimate, while their responsibility is to stay within those boundaries.