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Tackling health care conflicts and stereotyping

Concerns about conflicts of interest and stereotyping differ in their complexity. Resolving stereotyping-related concerns is relatively straightforward. Stereotyping should be dismantled immediately, regardless of the reasons for its creation, before it continues to perpetuate unchecked. However, merely dissolving stereotyping might not be enough if one form of stereotyping is replaced by another. Therefore, the ongoing effort to combat stereotyping must continue. When aiming to dissolve any stereotyping and ensure it doesn’t return, the focus should be on understanding and addressing the underlying factors that contribute to it.

Addressing conflicts of interest-related concerns is more challenging. Before delving into the conflicts of interest that affect health care professionals, we should first understand the conflicts of interest of entities like nations and corporations, even though they are non-human. Declaring their interests takes precedence because if they don’t declare their self-interests, who will advocate for them? However, their declaration of self-interests allows others to perceive potential conflicts. These conflicts can have varying effects, from being overlooked by some to causing concern or indifference in others.

Health care professionals themselves face numerous conflicts of interest. What do anesthesia providers, perioperative staff, proceduralists, health care institutions, payers, and regulators want beyond their respective roles and financial interests? Additionally, conflicts of interest can arise when experts who create guidelines are also clinicians who may benefit from those guidelines. The question of whether non-physician-administered health care can resolve conflicts within multispecialty guidelines is another consideration. Conflicting investments in pre-procedure and post-procedure care, as well as conflicting safety needs, may reveal conflicting self-interests among stakeholders in ambulatory health care. Similarly, health care professionals should also undergo timely health care screenings, just like their patients.

Essentially, high-risk roles or jobs may inherently generate significant revenue. Stereotyping the conflict within conflicts of interest may oversimplify the issue, as conflicts of interest are complex and often persist despite declarations. These conflicts impact various stakeholders, including patients seeking personal health, providers avoiding legal liabilities, and payers managing contributions.

Deepak Gupta is an anesthesiologist.

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