University of Illinois conflict-of-interest policies and procedures need an overhaul to ensure uniformity across their various campuses, according to a report the school issued in response to a recent controversy involving an ad for Intuitive Surgical's da Vinci robotic surgery system.
The report found no apparent individual wrongdoing connected to the unauthorized use of the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System name and logo in a staff picture that appeared in an ad endorsing the da Vinci system, although it did point out possible conflicts of interest.
Instead, the report focused on the lack of proper procedures to deal with such conflicts. “There is a lack of ownership of policies and procedures at the campus-level, within the College of Medicine and amongst individual staff,” Lawrence Schook, University of Illinois vice president for research, said in the report. “With respect to the activities and decisions regarding the Da Vinci advertisement, there is a lack of ownership and accountability for conflict disclosure and management.”
The report added that “there is no uniformity of certain related policies across the UI campuses” in Champaign-Urbana, Chicago and Springfield. It noted however, that “there were no fraudulent attempts to hide any associations between faculty and Intuitive Surgical.” In interviews and reviewed emails, there was an “open dialogue regarding appropriateness of activities,” according to the report.