Late Breaking News
Recent Court Case Underscores Strict Outside Payment Rules for Federal Physicians
WASHINGTON — Government employees are under strict rules about accepting outside gifts and outside payments. A reminder of that came last month with news that an Army doctor was ordered by a U.S. District Court last month to pay nearly $13,000 after accepting illegal payments from a medical device company.
Army cardiologist Maj. Jason Layne Davis, MD, was sentenced last month after he pleaded guilty in January to accepting a salary from an illegal source by accepting $4,812 in illegal payments from medical device manufacturer Boston Scientific’s subsidiary Guidant Sales Corp.
According to the criminal plea agreement, Davis received payments from the company for allowing their sales representatives to observe seven of his surgeries in which he implanted cardiac devices.
“Dr. Davis failed to inform his Army superiors or to obtain their consent to conduct this training or to allow the Boston Scientific employees to conduct the training,” it stated. “Although required to do so, Dr. Davis never asked for or obtained approval or permission from anyone to engage in this employment, or to use government facilities to perform these services for an additional salary.”
Prosecutors detailed other payments that Davis had received from the company in a sentencing memorandum, such as $2,000 for delivering a 45-minute speech at a Boston Scientific event and $3,388 to treat “him and his wife to multiple, extravagant meals, some with significant tabs for alcohol.”
Prosecutors said the money, gifts and favors influenced Davis and that he “became an aggressive user of and advocate for Boston Scientific devices” and began directing that “Madigan [Army Medical Center] make bulk purchases of Boston Scientific devices, despite Federal Regulations and language in Madigan contracts that seemed to disallow these purchases.”
Outside Payments to Physicians
When it comes to accepting outside payments, federal law states that “an executive branch employee is generally prohibited from receiving compensation from an outside source for doing his or her government job. More specifically, unless an exception applies, an employee may not receive any salary or contribution to or supplementation of salary, from any source other than the government, as compensation for services as a government employee.”
Federal law also states that, “employees shall not solicit or accept any gift or other item of monetary value from any person or entity seeking official action from, doing business with or conducting activities regulated by an employee’s agency, or whose interests may be substantially affected by the performance or nonperformance of the employee’s duties.”
Examples of gifts acceptable under an exception to the law are gifts, other than cash, valued at $20 or less from one source, per occasion, not to exceed $50 in a calendar year.
Federal physicians are under considerably greater restrictions than nongovernment physicians when it comes to accepting gifts. That was pointed out in the sentencing memorandum.