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Doctor's conflicts of interest becoming more common


When Pottsville residents visit the doctor, they often place a great deal of trust in what the doctor has to say. Patients depend heavily on that trust when they follow a doctor's advice to undergo a certain procedure, take a specific medication or go through some other course of care. Indeed, the doctor's education, training and experience place the doctor in the better position to make these types of recommendations.

Unfortunately, the patient's trust can be violated when the doctor does not act in the patient's best interests. This can happen in any number of different ways.

For instance, it is becoming increasingly common for doctors to have conflicts of interest in their practice. The doctor may have helped invent a surgical device, for example, and he or she may receive royalty payments each time that device is utilized in surgery. In other cases, doctors may have helped develop a drug, or they may be paid for their part in certain clinical trials. Accordingly, questions can arise as to whether the doctor's personal gain influences their decision-making with the patient.

Ultimately, a conflict of interest alone may not be enough to support a medical malpractice claim. However, the underlying issue is that doctors have a duty to act in the patient's best interests. If doctors take certain actions that are not in the patient's best interests, it can cause serious injury to the patient.

A doctor's mistreatment through the wrong device or drug, for example, may cause the patient to experience a worsened medical condition. Accordingly, it is not just the conflict of interest that can be harmful, but the results to the patient when the right course of care is not undertaken.

Source: The New York Times, "When doctors have conflicts of interest," Mikkael A. Sekeres, June 29, 2016

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