July 5, 2016 02:34 PM

Nonprofit news agency ProPublica’s ongoing investigative series, Dollars for Doctors: How Industry Money Reaches Physicians, has probed the connection between doctors who receive money, complimentary trips and meals and other gratuities from drug and medical device manufacturers and how likely those physicians are to prescribe the products made by those companies.

The latest story in the series, “Drug and Device Makers Find Receptive Audience at For-profit, Southern Hospitals,” was published at the end of June and finds that physicians at for-profit hospitals across the Deep South are the most likely to receive such payments, and that Louisiana is second in the nation in the phenomenon, with 78.1 percent of physicians at for-profit hospital-affiliated doctors receiving such payments, according to ProPublica.

From the report:

For the past six years, ProPublica has tracked industry payments to doctors, finding that some earn hundreds of thousands of dollars or more each year working with drug and device companies. We’ve reported how the drugs most aggressively promoted to doctors typically aren’t cures or even big medical breakthroughs.

And we recently found an association between payments and higher rates of brand-name prescribing, on average. Accepting even one inexpensive meal from a company was associated with a higher rate of prescribing the product to which the meal was linked, another study showed.

This analysis shows profound differences among hospitals, but it’s uncertain why that is. It could be that hospitals play a role in shaping affiliated doctors’ acceptance of payments or that like-minded physicians congregate at particular hospitals.

Read the full story here.