Former Patient Safety Advocate Settles Conflict of Interest Case

Last year we told the story of Dr. Chuck Denham, who went from a being a renowned patient safety advocate to being accused of accepting kickbacks for promoting drug company products while he was advising the National Quality Forum on best safety practices for medical providers.

Last week, as announced by ProPublica.org, Denham agreed to pay $1 million to settle those allegations. The deal also bars him from participating in Medicare and Medicaid programs.

His was quite the fall from grace to disgrace.

The National Quality Forum (NQF) is a nonprofit organization whose work is considered first-rate for objectivity and sound science.

Denham polluted its well by failing to disclose to the panel of experts he led for its Safe Practices Committee that he had received payments from CareFusion Corp., which produces ChloraPrep, a surgical antiseptic. Other members of the panel had not planned to endorse the product, but Denham had encouraged it to do so. The committee ended up recommending ChloraPrep to prevent infections.

Denham’s lack of ethics undermined the integrity of the NSF and, according the U.S. Justice Department, prompted fraudulent claims to government health-care programs. Because he was responsible for what has been called the patient safety movement’s first scandal, Denham also was lopped as editor of the Journal of Patient Safety, which has accepted responsibility for its lapses in oversight. Denham has not acknowledged wrongdoing.

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