April 10, 2009

Medical school gets high marks in ethical report card, peers draw attention as they flunk

The Pritzker School of Medicine received a B grade last year on a scorecard which evaluated conflict of interest policies at academic medical centers and was written by the American Medical Student Association, performing significantly better than many peer institutions. Its ranking was based on a policy absolutely banning gifts and meals from pharmaceutical representatives, and in categories related to training and classroom curriculum. It received its lowest score in disclosure. Last month Harvard Medical School, which received an F on the report card, was put on the spot as national media criticized the school’s lack of conflict of interest policy. But Harvard was not alone at the bottom. Out of the 151 schools on scorecard, 52 schools received Fs on the scorecard, 24 got Ds, 5 got Cs, 14 Bs, and finally eight As. Though the report came out last year, Harvard medical students organized last month, bringing light to the lack of ethical policies in many medical schools.“I think the B is an accurate portrayal of our policies. We are quite pleased with that score,” said Carolyn Wilson, dean of the University of Chicago Medical Center. “We believe that the work we’ve done in the past years is a tremendous step forward, and we acknowledge that we have further to go.”University of Chicago has had a conflict of interest policy in place for a number of years. However, it was significantly strengthened in 2008 when the American Medical Colleges Association, the organization that accredits medical schools, released a report that called for all medical centers to have a conflict of interest policy in place. James Madara, CEO of the Medical Center, was on the committee that produced the report. He brought many of the committee’s ideas back to University to develop into policies. Assistant Dean for Curricular Innovation at the Pritzker School of Medicine Vineet Arora has been collaborating with Holly Humphrey, M.D., and John Schneider, M.D., to develop a conflict of interest curriculum. Originally it was intended for the residency program, but it became apparent that students were coming into contact with industry earlier in their medical careers. “This is very much a snapshot in time. Things are evolving. We need to be constantly thinking about what is best for students, residents, and faculty,” Arora said.