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Within the past few days, an interesting case made headlines. It is horrific: an oncologist ordered chemotherapy on patients who did not have cancer, and over-prescribed chemotherapy on patients who did.

It brings to light some interesting issues in medicine, especially (for me) the conflict of interest which occurs when a physician owns his own diagnostic and treatment centers. The damage to public trust of physicians is inestimable. On another site, I've recommended that anyone ordering an test which was questionable should consider conflict of interest as a possible motive for a physician ordering an iffy test.

Is there any chance of addressing this kind of situation (physician abuses) here? I see this as an educational opportunity. If more people were aware of conflict of interest issues (albeit usually much less harmful than this sociopath's actions), fewer patients' wallets would suffer. I think it would be something valuable for patients to know. I know that as a physician, I never feel put upon in the least the few times there was a conflict of interest question. Since I'm a patient advocate, I'm happy that patients are asking. I wish more would.

Edited to add: An example of a question I can see fitting the SE format:

How can patients protect themselves from overuse of diagnostic tests (or medications/other treatment options, e.g. physical therapy, surgery, etc.) due to conflict of interest on the part of the physician?

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    I’m not quite seeing how this fits in the Q&A format. Seems like more of a topic for chat discussion (a good one!). Maybe you could give an example of a question on this topic that would be “answerable" in the SE sense of the term? – Susan Jul 12 '15 at 4:01
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Undoubtedly, any answer to this question will be opinion based. With that in mind, I agree that this would be relevant in Health SE. If our objective here is the exchange of non-bias, relevant, and verifiable information for the purpose of beneficence, addressing physician abuse would fit the criteria points.

As with all topics in Health SE, we will have to be mindful of our answers in order to avoid offering "medical advice" as opposed to providing neutral information that adequately addresses the question.

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