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Ethical Standards for Cardiothoracic Surgeons Relating to Industry

1. When caring for patients, members must hold the patient’s welfare paramount.

2. Members must prescribe drugs, devices, and treatment based solely on medical considerations and patients’ preferences, regardless of any direct or indirect inducements by industry.

3. Members should inform a patient of any conflicts of interest arising from their relationships with or investments in companies that manufacture or supply medications, devices, or therapies to be used for the patient. Any conflict of interest must be resolved in the best interest of the patient.

4. When faced with a conflict of interest that cannot be easily resolved, a member should consult with disinterested colleagues or an institutional ethics committee to determine if an actual or potential conflict of interest is present and, if so, how to address it.

5. Members should accept no gifts from industry, regardless of value. Drug samples intended only for the use of patients are not considered gifts.

6. Members must accept no direct or indirect financial inducements from industry for utilizing one particular device or drug over another or for switching from one manufacturer’s product to another. Unacceptable inducements include payment over and above the actual cost of completing post-marketing surveys of drug or device use.

7. Members who enter into a consulting agreement should be able to document the following:

  • The consulting service was needed.
  • The consulting service was actually provided.
  • The payment for consultation was not higher than fair market value.
  • No compensation or other incentive was based upon the volume or value of business associated with the agreement.

8. Members should disclose their own or their institution’s financial relationship with the manufacturer of a drug or device whenever clinical research or experience with a particular procedure or device is presented at a meeting or is published.

9. Members who serve as the principal investigator of any research project should report fully any influence from funding sources on designing the project, controlling access to the data, preparing a presentation or paper, or controlling timing of presentation or publication.

10. Members should accept no remuneration from industry to attend any social functions that have no educational content.

11. Members should not accept any financial support from industry for attendance at any educational event. Residency program directors should ensure that industry grants, which may be extended to residents, are made through the sponsoring institution, not directly to the resident.

12. Members who are speakers at an industry-supported educational event should accept only reasonable honoraria and reimbursement for travel, meals, and lodging; all such payments should be made by the conference sponsor, not directly by industry. Members should not attend a company-sponsored event unless its major purpose is consultation, education, or training in the proper use of the company's products. The only financial considerations should be reimbursement for travel, meals, and lodging (except for consultation-see Standard 7). Members should not accept reimbursement for attending an educational event if the event's location constitutes an inducement that is independent of the event's educational value.

Amended by AATS Board of Directors, May 2012