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Docs warned on 'divided loyalty'

The New York Times, December 27, 2012

With hospitals buying up medical practices around the country and seeking to make the most of their investment, the American Medical Association reached out to doctors this week to remind them that patient welfare must always come first and not be overridden by the economic interests of hospitals that now employ doctors in ever-growing numbers. "In any situation where the economic or other interests of the employer are in conflict with patient welfare, patient welfare must take priority," says a policy statement adopted by the association. "A physician's paramount responsibility is to his or her patients," the association said. At the same time, it added, a doctor ?owes a duty of loyalty to his or her employer," and "this divided loyalty can create conflicts of interest, such as financial incentives to over—or under—treat patients."