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How Conflict of Interest Became a Health Care Urban Legend
The Health Care Blog

Throughout history, physicians have treated patients for conditions that generations of their professional successors later deemed figments of their (the physicians’) imaginations. The list is long, but in just the last 100 years, it has included such disorders as female hysteria, homosexuality, moral insanity, neurasthenia, and vapors, among many others. The consequences of such diagnoses were not trivial, and in some cases, patients were stigmatized, ostracized, subjected involuntarily to a variety of noxious treatments, and even incarcerated because of them. Yet we now believe that each of these conditions was a fiction, and they are absent from today’s textbooks.

Something similar may be afoot in the profession of medicine today. The affliction is known as conflict of interest, and medicine is thought to be suffering a pandemic of it. In fact, its proponents argue that no physician is safe.

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