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Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2013 May;8(5):840-4. doi: 10.2215/CJN.08490812. Epub 2012 Dec 6.

Nephrologists' professional ethics in dialysis practices.

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Center for Health Ethics and Law, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia 26506-9022, USA.


Although the number of incidents is unknown, professional quality-oriented renal organizations have become aware of an increased number of complaints regarding nephrologists who approach patients with the purpose of influencing patients to change nephrologists or dialysis facilities (hereinafter referred to as patient solicitation). This development prompted the Forum of ESRD Networks and the Renal Physicians Association to publish a policy statement on professionalism and ethics in medical practice as these concepts relate to patient solicitation. Also common but not new is the practice of nephrologists trying to recruit their own patients to a new dialysis unit in which they have a financial interest. This paper presents two illustrative cases and provides an ethical framework for analyzing patient solicitation and physician conflict of interest. This work concludes that, in the absence of objective data that medical treatment is better elsewhere, nephrologists who attempt to influence patients to change nephrologists or dialysis facilities fall short of accepted ethical standards pertaining to professional conduct, particularly with regard to the physician-patient relationship, informed consent, continuity of care, and conflict of interest.

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