Conflicts of Interest in Medicine – Introduction to “ACPJ Ethics 2017” Panel Discussion

By Dr. Andrene Chung, Consultant Cardiologist, Chairman of the Heart Foundation of Jamaica

Conflicts of Interest are widespread in Medicine. Although doctors’ primary concern is patient welfare, we have many secondary interests. We are healers, educators, researchers, clinic managers and business persons. A statement that someone has a conflict of interest does not imply that the person is unethical or corrupt but our fundamental obligation as doctors is to make sure that our primary interests are the patients’ best interests. All other interests should be secondary. Remember that the doctor-patient relationship is one of trust but it is also a relationship of imbalance of power, knowledge, expertise and experience. The balance is in our favour so we must recognise patients’ vulnerability and avoid exploitation. While potential or actual harm from a conflict of interest may be minor, the very perception of a conflict of interest may erode trust. Understanding the concepts in conflicts of interest will preserve and improve our professional judgement and ultimately promote public trust in the profession.

Jih, Chin Jing. “Conflicts of Interest in Medicine.” SMA News February (2013): n. page. Web.