The Dawn of Transparency: Insights from the Physician Payment Sunshine Act in Plastic Surgery

Rizwan Ahmed, Joseph Lopez, Sunjae Bae, Allan B. Massie, Eric K. Chow, Karan Chopra, Babak J. Orandi, Bonnie E. Lonze, James W. May, Justin M. Sacks, Dorry L. Segev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Background The Physician Payments Sunshine Act (PSSA) is a government initiative that requires all biomedical companies to publicly disclose payments to physicians through the Open Payments Program (OPP). The goal of this study was to use the OPP database and evaluate all nonresearch-related financial transactions between plastic surgeons and biomedical companies. Methods Using the first wave of OPP data published on September 30, 2014, we studied the national distribution of industry payments made to plastic surgeons during a 5-month period. We explored whether a plastic surgeon's scientific productivity (as determined by their h-index), practice setting (private versus academic), geographic location, and subspecialty were associated with payment amount. Results Plastic surgeons (N = 4195) received a total of US $5,278,613. The median (IQR) payment to a plastic surgeon was US $115 (US $35-298); mean, US $158. The largest payment to an individual was US $341,384. The largest payment category was non-CEP speaker fees (US $1,709,930) followed by consulting fees (US $1,403,770). Plastic surgeons in private practice received higher payments per surgeon compared with surgeons in academic practice (median [IQR], US $165 [US $81-$441] vs median [IQR], US $112 [US $33-$291], rank-sum P < 0.001). Among academic plastic surgeons, a higher h-index was associated with 77% greater chance of receiving at least US $1000 in total payments (RR/10 unit h-index increase = 1.47 1.772.11, P < 0.001). This association was not seen among plastic surgeons in private practice (RR = 0.89 1.091.32, P < 0.4). Conclusions Plastic surgeons in private practice receive higher payments from industry. Among academic plastic surgeons, higher payments were associated with higher h-indices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-323
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of Plastic Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017


  • Open payments program
  • academic productivity
  • bibliometrics
  • h-index
  • industry physician conflicts-of-interest
  • physician payments sunshine act
  • plastic surgery


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