The Wall Street Journalreported on Tuesday about a special fraud alert issued by the inspector general for the Health and Human Services Department. The alert focused on physician-owned distributorships of PODs. These PODs are commercial entities run by doctors that have proliferated in the fields of orthopedic and spine surgery. In essence the surgeons own the distributorships which sell the devices to the hospitals or surgery centers and then they get a commission for the sales. The Office of Inspector General said PODs produced “substantial fraud and abuse risk” and were unlikely to pass muster under the federal Anti-Kickback Statute. “The financial incentives that PODs offer to their physician-owners may induce the physicians both to perform more procedures (or more expensive procedures) than are medically necessary and to use the devices the PODs sell in lieu of other, potentially more clinically appropriate, devices.” If you want to read more about these relationships, go to our colleagues at the Association of Medical Ethics page on PODs. If you feel so inclined join the association (it’s free) at this link. On a personal note always ask your providers if they are getting financial incentives to use particular devices or pharmaceuticals.