conflict of interest

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(in medical ethics) the situation in which a health professional is subject to potential or actual pressures that may conflict with his or her obligation to promote the best interests of the patient over and above all else. A conflict of interest arises from a particular context or situation and may threaten a doctor’s integrity and undermine trust between professional and patient. For example, a drug company may encourage a doctor to prescribe a particular medicine, which may not be the treatment of choice for a patient. In medical research, there is always a potential conflict between protecting the individual and benefiting society. Particular problems of this kind occur in randomized controlled trials (see equipoise, intervention study). Doctors will always experience competing pressures and it is important for them to be able to recognize and then, where possible, disclose, resolve, or mitigate morally problematic conflicts.

Subjects: Medicine and Health — Law.

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