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Conflict of Interest

Tue, Dec 11, 2012

Hopefully, it is clear to everyone that the practice of medicine constitutes a thriving business supplying a product whose value is difficult to quantify in anything except in dollars. Doctors or “providers” can provide examinations, organize tests and supply therapies, which may or may not be appropriate for a trusting patient. A large invoice follows: MRI scans of the back or neck, epidural steroid injections of the cervical and lumbar spine, bone density studies, laser incision techniques, and rapid vein remodeling, spinal fusions, easy weight loss methods are our current snake oil offerings. A desired clinical outcome is extended to the patient by the provider without hesitation or proof of value, that is, a warranty based upon proven validity and safety of a given device or procedure. You can ask for such reassurance and if denied it, reject the offer of service.

The Government can serve as a helpful intermediary in this exchange, as it can expressly support therapies, tests, and clinical methods that actually work and justify deployment in the population of needy consumers. The use of rational testing and proven therapies as published by government science “panels” will: 1. Lower the cost of care and 2. Improve the quality or outcomes of care, and reduce the outrageous conflicts of interest that hold sway in medicine today. Now, if you own an MRI machine, for example you are going to keep it busy whether or not it is reasonable and clinically warranted to do so. This conflict of gratifying self-interest must stop if medical fairness is to be achieved. Obama Care goes a long way to supply the needed brakes to a runaway system.

Written by Scott A. Kale, StreetWise Contributor

Scott A. Kale is a Chicago Internist, Rheumatologist and non-practicing attorney and has a strong interest in social policy.

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