Conflicts of Interest in the Medical Profession


In the health care profession conflict of interest occurs when a professional in the field is under due influence from the financial benefit, personal, or other peoples interest either consciously or unconsciously that he or she be incapable of upholding professional ethics, code of conduct, and discipline. Conflict of interest may occur when making decisions that instead of making them in be the best interest of the patient; are made for the benefit of the professional or the third body (Heim, 2010). This paper discusses the three conflicts of interest that are present in the modern health care industry.

Small Gifts and Full Disclosure

In an ideal situation, when conducting scientific research, the patients under test or sample patients are given the dosage of the test and are expected to report on the outcome without biasness or favors. However when they are on test, they are given numerous benefits which include lunch allowances, attendance fees, favors, and good treatments; when this is effected, the reporters may not be objective when giving their views which can result in biasness and inferences made not in the interest of the patients or other sufferers (Heim, 2010).

Businesses alongside employments

In modern capitalist economies, an increasing number of medical practitioners who have medical facilities manned by them indirectly or by other people but they have an interest in them (private hospitals), sometimes for the money factor, professionals may be referring patients to their facility. In some cases, the referral may be for the benefit of the patient however, the physician always has some financial benefit from the transaction.

In some cases the professionals do in a very professional manner, they may pose to be advising the patient however, back in their mind they know they have some gains they will get from the entire deal. Another version of the same practice is when a physician is giving services in more than one facility in the form of a contract basis. In this case, the physician can be offering better services in the facility that he is getting higher premiums alternatively he may be referring people to the facility that will offer him higher gains.

In the above two scenarios, the physician is using his understanding, exposure, and influence to direct the patient to those facilities that will have some financial benefit to him. In extreme cases, the practitioners may be referring patients to their friend’s facilities, an influence from a third party that can lead to unethical behavior. The challenge with conflict of interest is the way they are taken since it can be argued that they are meant for the mutual benefit of the patient and the professional (Lisi, 2009).

Connection with drugs manufacturers

In the economy, several manufacturers can supply some drugs, for example, there are different painkillers in the market. When procuring, physicians may be recommending those manufacturers that they are going to benefit directly or otherwise. This may happen directly at the procurement stage or it can happen indirectly where the practitioner prescribes those medications that come from the company that he is a party.

When this happens, the practitioner looks beyond the needs of quality in the profession but considers what he wants to gain from the deal. The main violated aspect as far as a conflict of interest is concerned is the lack of an ethical way of practicing; the professionals make decisions with their self-interests at hand; this compromises quality and in most cases raises the cost of medication (Heim, 2010).

Recommendations on the way forward

The above problems vary in their magnitude and they come in different shapes, to eradicate and ensure that they will not reappear; it will call for the participation of different stakeholders over and above the efforts that an individual facility can do.

The main drive to engage in the actions is to have an extra income; with this in mind, the approach that the industry should take assures an increased income on the professionals; salaries and other benefits should be increased. Although human needs for money is insatiable, when the practitioners get high remunerations, chances are that they will not be tempted as such to engage in career-threatening practices in the name of looking for extra revenue.

Another approach that the industry should embark on is having a body that harmonizes the cost of medication by experts or professionals in different facilities; when such an intervention is made, patients will know the amount they are expected to pay for a certain medical practice. When such an intervention is made, it will make practitioners not refer patients to those places where they will get higher gains.


The emphasis of upholding professionalism and respect for ethical behavior should be embarked on; schools need to be more concerned about their syllabus to ensure that they offer the best to their students. After getting the practicing certificate, the registration body should be keen to monitor and ensure that high ethical standards are maintained in the profession and those people who seem not comfortable with the standards should be denied the practicing certificate (Lisi, 2009).


Heim, L. (2010). Identifying and Addressing Potential Conflict of Interest: A Professional Medical Organization’s Code of Ethics. Annals of Family Medicine, 8(4), 359-361.

Lisi, A. J. (2009). Managing Conflicts of Interest in Continuing Medical Education: a Comparison of Policies. Journal of Chiropractic Education, 23(1), 36.

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