Conflict Seen in Doctors’ Investments

United Press International

The editor of the New England Journal of Medicine today chastised the growing number of physicians with financial conflicts of interest that could interfere with their treatment of patients.

With increasing frequency medical practitioners are seeking profits from business arrangements with hospitals, equipment manufacturers and companies providing ambulatory health care services, Dr. Arnold S. Relman said.

Physicians also now have financial interests in diagnostic clinics, walk-in surgery centers, dialysis units, physical therapy centers and other such facilities.

Relman said the proliferation of overlapping investments by doctors is beginning to attract legislative attention and warned that doctors should assume responsibility for their own problems.

In most of the business ventures, the investing physicians’ profits depend, at least in part, on referrals of patients to these facilities or on other decisions they make in the care of their patients. Such arrangements could tempt doctors to order unneeded treatment for patients, Relman said.