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Health care professionals and industry: Reducing conflicts of interest and established best practices

  • Leonard J Weber
    Affiliations
    University of Detroit Mercy (Weber); Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan (Weber, Wayland, Holton); and Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Wayne State University School of Medicine (Wayland, Holton), Detroit, MI
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  • Marilyn T Wayland
    Affiliations
    University of Detroit Mercy (Weber); Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan (Weber, Wayland, Holton); and Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Wayne State University School of Medicine (Wayland, Holton), Detroit, MI
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  • Brynda Holton
    Correspondence
    Correspondence to Leonard J. Weber, PhD, University of Detroit Mercy, 8200 W Outer Dr, Detroit, MI 48219,
    Affiliations
    University of Detroit Mercy (Weber); Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan (Weber, Wayland, Holton); and Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Wayne State University School of Medicine (Wayland, Holton), Detroit, MI
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      Abstract

      Weber LJ, Wayland MT, Holton B. Health care professionals and industry: reducing conflicts of interest and established best practices. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2001;82 Suppl 2:S20-4. The relationship between health care providers and pharmaceutical companies and other commercial interests is ethically complex. The common practice of IMAGEt giving takes many forms including free samples, sponsorship of medical education, loan of equipment, and IMAGEts ranging from those of nominal value such as pens to more valuable IMAGEts such as golf outings or dinners. IMAGEt giving is a practice that serves both the recipient and the giver, but, in the medical setting, it raises the question of whether this is to the detriment of patient care. Although health care professionals may believe they are able to ignore influence from commercial interests, human judgment research indicates that decision-makers are generally unaware of biases affecting their decisions. This is an issue of organizational ethics as well. Institutions that allow commercial interests to give some form of IMAGEt are allowing the appearance of bias as well as placing the burden of avoiding bias on the individual rather than on the institution. Conflict-of-interest analysis indicates that best practice is to limit or eliminate the influence of commercial interests, ensuring that professionals are better able to exercise their independent objective judgment. © by the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine

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