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Medical Ethics |

Conflict of Interest in Clinical Practice*

Mark R. Tonelli, MD, MA, FCCP
Author and Funding Information

*From the University of Washington, Seattle, WA.

Correspondence to: Mark R. Tonelli, MD, MA, FCCP, Box 356522, 1959 NE Pacific St, Seattle, WA 98195-6522; e-mail: tonelli@u.washington.edu



Chest. 2007;132(2):664-670. doi:10.1378/chest.07-0315
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Conflicts of interest, ubiquitous in medicine, occur when the interests of clinicians do not align with the interests of their patients. When systemic and institutionalized, such conflicts become particularly problematic, not only creating risks for individual patients but also undermining the integrity of the medical profession. Financial conflicts of interest arise when the reimbursement of clinicians appears to encourage decisions and actions that are unlikely to be in the best interest of individual patients. More insidiously, the influence of the pharmaceutical and medical device industry on clinicians, whether through gift giving, support of continuing medical education, or guideline development, creates conflicts of interest that may go unrecognized. Recognition and acknowledgment are the first steps in ameliorating conflicts of interest, which can then be disclosed and potentially eliminated.


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