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Keywords:

  • medical ethics;
  • ethics of care;
  • patient;
  • pharmaceutical;
  • societal interpretation of ethics of care

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to analyze the attitude of a group of cardiologists on the ethical conducts they would accept or adopt when encountered with different hypothetical situations of medical practice. Between August and September of 2011, 700 Argentine cardiologists were surveyed in situations which posed ethical dilemmas in the patient-physician relationship, among colleagues or involving financial agreements with employers or the pharmaceutical industry. Ethical conflicts were evidenced in a series of inappropriate conducts such as differential fees, trips and meals sponsored by laboratories, splitting fees, overbilling, self-referral, charging for patient referral, financial compensation for ordering medical procedures, and various situations derived from the relationship with employers. In general, financial compensation from the pharmaceutical industry was more accepted than the conflictive situations which directly involved patients, colleagues or employers. The rejection of these conducts, the physicians' deontological education and the improvement of financial and organizational conditions in medical practice will help to encourage better medical professionalism and avoid unseemly behaviors.