Conflicts of Interest Among Physicians II




Health and Healthcare CategoryI previously posted a few times about conflicts of interest within the medical profession. A friend of a friend who reads my posts posed the simple question to me:

Isn’t the entire medical profession in conflict because it is profit driven?

This is an interesting question. After all, doctors make their living either seeing patients or doing procedures. No office visits, consultations, or surgeries then no income is generated. Thus wouldn’t doctors all benefit from making sure that patients keep coming back and that more procedures are done? Unfortunately this is true. It’s kind of like taking your car to the mechanic and asking what is wrong and for him to fix it. Of course you need a new transmission and spark plug and timing belt. Without it how is he going to feed his family and pay his mortgage? Luckily doctors take an oath to place their patients interests first. Do mechanics do the same? Maybe. Maybe not. Do lawyers do the same?

MoneyI don’t ever see a solution to this problem, unless we move to a system where doctors are all salaried and receive no reimbursement based on volume or procedures. But I don’t think that will ever happen. Physicians are entrepreneurial and that is why the private practice of medicine exists today. Granted, more doctors are moving towards working for salaries but there will always be a paying customer for specialized elective services. People will always be willing to pay a premium to have that special procedure or see that specialized physician.

So is it really a problem that doctors profit from their work? I say no. Every other profession makes money from their work AND most of those professions don’t take an oath to out the customer above all else.

  • MSB

    In Canada, where all docs are salaried, efforts to add a private tier
    to the national health care system have been defeated in Parliament.
    Just as insurance companies have no place in a health care system
    for the US, docs should not be in charge of the financial management of the health
    care system. Health care needs to be a service provided by government
    to all citizens, not a businees in which the entrepreneurial do best.

    Medicine is a profession whose values have been threatened by business.
    Doctors should earn good salaries for working a set number of hours, with
    compensation from the gov’t for student loans, etc.

    As the wife of a physician and a health care professional, I think doctors
    are being shafted, but I have no sympathy for those who feel they’re entitled
    to exorbitant incomes driven by procedures and who increasingly refuse
    to accept insurance and public medical programs..

  • A related question: how is compliance with the oath ensured. By doctors, no? Hmm.

JC, MD

Dr. JC is a medical doctor who has a passion for health promotion and education.
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