UAMS College of Medicine Recognized as National Leader in Conflict-of-Interest Standards

By Ben Boulden

Institute on Medicine as a Profession (IMAP) surveyed policies at 127 medical schools and published the results in the October issue of Academic Medicine.

“This recognition is a positive for UAMS and the state of Arkansas,” said Charles Smith, M.D., executive associate dean for clinical affairs in the UAMS College of Medicine. “Having these policies in place addressing ethical practices and conflicts of interest, along with the strong enforcement of them, is something we all can feel pride in achieving.”

In the study Managing Conflicts of Interest in Clinical Care: The Race to the Middle at U.S. Medical Schools, investigators evaluated CCOI policies in 2011 for accredited medical schools. The evaluations were based on policy recommendations issued by the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Institute of Medicine and the ABIM Foundation and IMAP.  The researchers also compared 2011 and 2008 data to see how much change had occurred. IMAP did its first CCOI study in 2008.

The study also analyzed whether a school’s status, hospital affiliation, or source of funding influenced CCOI policy strength.

“The team at UAMS has put in a lot of hard work in achieving this level of recognition,” Smith said. “It’s really not very glorious work addressing and sorting out all of the policies that deal with conflict of interest and vendor relations at all levels. Multiple layers in all these operations need to be examined and addressed in terms of policy and procedure within the institution. Now, we need to maintain this strong sense of accountability for preventing conflicts of interest to enter the system.”

Smith said many people helped achieve the recognition, notably former College of Medicine Dean Debra Fiser, M.D., Margaret Ward, faculty group practice coordinator, and Bob Bishop, UAMS vice chancellor for institutional compliance. UAMS College of Medicine Dean G. Richard Smith, M.D., and the entire UAMS administration are committed to maintaining its strong conflict-of-interest policies and enforcement, he said.

Others in the top five recognized by the IMAP are Emory University School of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine and Boston University School of Medicine.

IMAP’s study found that U.S. medical schools have made significant progress to strengthen their management of clinical conflicts of interest (CCOI), but that most schools still lag behind national standards.

To track progress and encourage stronger policies, IMAP has started a new Conflict of Interest Policy Database that houses policies from medical schools across the country. The publicly accessible database allows anyone to search a school’s CCOI policies, compare them with other institutions, identify where progress needs to be made and learn best practices.

UAMS is the state's only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute and Institute for Digital Health & Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS' clinical enterprise including its hospital, regional clinics and clinics it operates or staffs in cooperation with other providers. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. U.S. News & World Report named UAMS Medical Center the state's Best Hospital; ranked its ear, nose and throat program among the top 50 nationwide; and named six areas as high performing — COPD, colon cancer surgery, heart failure, hip replacement, knee replacement and lung cancer surgery. UAMS has 2,876 students, 898 medical residents and four dental residents. It is the state's largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children's Hospital, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit or Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.