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ACR: Rheumatologists Feel Need to 'Bend' Ethics for Patients

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Rheumatologists in the United States often feel that they need to compromise their ethics to obtain tests and treatments for their patients, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology, held from Oct. 25 to 30 in San Diego.

C. Ronald MacKenzie, M.D., from the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, and colleagues sent a survey regarding ethical issues to 5,500 members of the American College of Rheumatology in the United States.

The researchers found that many rheumatologists felt they needed to bend ethical norms and compromise ethical principles to serve their patients. This included embellishing symptoms to obtain prior authorization, downcoding to help their less fortunate patients, stretching the truth to obtain drugs and tests, and making particular incorrect diagnoses to obtain coverage for medications or physical therapy.

"We found that a pressing ethical issue for many rheumatologists is their perceived need to 'bend' ethical norms and compromise ethical principles in order to provide the care their patients need," MacKenzie said in a statement. "The delivery of medical care takes place in a particular social context, and when this context includes conditions that are unfair, health care practitioners may be forced to struggle with ethical conflicts, making trade-offs that may go unrecognized or are not adequately discussed."

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