Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 40 (3):511-522 (2012)

Abstract
Why do physicians have financial conflicts of interest? They arise because society expects physicians to act in their patients’ interest, while simultaneously, financial incentives encourage physicians to practice medicine in ways that promote their own interests or those of third parties. Because physicians’ clinical choices, referrals, and prescriptions affect the fortune of third parties, these third parties may offer physicians financial incentives to make income-driven clinical choices. In the past, physicians and scholars typically conceived of conflicts of interest as an ethical issue to be resolved according to individual judgment or professional and organizational norms. However, society can mitigate or eliminate conflicts of interest by changing financial and organizational arrangements in medicine. Conflicts of interest, therefore, are as much matters of public policy and management as individual choices or social norms.
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DOI 10.1111/j.1748-720x.2012.00683.x
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