Device Sales Representatives in the Operating Room: Do We Really Need or Want Them? A Survey of Orthopaedic Trauma Surgeons

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The purposes of this study were to determine the current attitude of orthopaedic trauma surgeons toward device sales representatives (DSRs), especially regarding their presence in the operating room (OR), and to establish the existence of any surgeon generational differences.


A survey was created using a 5-point Likert response scale, related to conflict of interest (COI) and attitudes toward DSRs. Participants were solicited from the Orthopaedic Trauma Association database of 384 active members and 127 (33%) completed the survey. Respondents were divided into 2 subcategories (Generation X vs. Baby Boomers).


Overall, respondents viewed their DSRs favorably without any perception of COI. However, they perceived their peers as being at risk for COI (P ≤ 0.004). Generation X responders feel that DSRs should be in the OR for all cases, whereas Baby Boomers do not (P < 0.01).


With one striking generational difference, most orthopaedic trauma surgeons feel that they need DSRs in the OR. Similar to other physician groups, they also feel that they are not subject to COI from salesman contact that affects their peers. Reasons for this perceived need and any related COI risk, and the opportunities to address both, require further study.

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