Conflicts of Interest For Nurses

A conflict of interest is described as “a situation in which the concerns or aims of two different parties are incompatible.” As a nurse, you will eventually come across sticky situations that might be tough to navigate. Conflicts of interest for nurses arise often, so it’s important to know how to handle them properly. Since you’re working in a professional setting with a variety of regulations, things can often get pretty tricky, so below we’ve listed a few examples of conflicts of interest you may come across while nursing and how to properly handle them.

Conflict Of Interest Examples

The Patient/Relative Situation

conflict of interest for nurses

Treating family can quickly become a conflict of interest.

One of the biggest conflicts of interest for nurses is how to handle family members that come into their practice. The regulations regarding the treatment of family members will differ depending on where you work, but most of the time it will be your decision whether or not you want to treat them. Some will be uncomfortable treating family members in such an intimate setting, while others will actually feel more comfortable being in charge of their family member’s care. Make sure you discuss this with your supervisor to ensure that you’re taking the proper steps to avoid a conflict of interest.


The Criminal Situation

You’ve probably seen this situation in a movie or TV show before. A person commits a serious crime but is injured in the process. Nurses and the medical staff then have to care for the alleged criminal despite the crimes he committed. Conflicts of interest for nurses like this will certainly put a strain on your moral code, but it’s important that you put nurse ethics before your own judgment. Your number one duty as a nurse is to take care of your patients regardless of who they are or what they have done. If you do feel uncomfortable taking care of a certain patient, make sure to voice your concern with a supervisor so you both can work out a solution that works for everyone.

The Friendly Pharma Company

Healthcare professionals come across new medications and prescription drugs on a daily basis, so it’s no surprise that in this competitive industry, some pharmaceutical companies will do whatever they can to ensure that you’ll prescribe their new drug, including bribery. Some sales reps come in and shower the staff with gifts and food, in exchange for a short sales pitch. That’s fine, but shouldn’t every medicine have the benefit of this placement? Who is to say that the new product they are hawking is any better for the patient than the older or original products? When you take what the rep is giving, you set up in your mind that theirs is good for the patient. There really is no such thing as a “free lunch” when you’re dealing with big pharma, so try to keep any bias out of your decisions and if things seem “too good to be true,” they often are.

Navigating Conflicts Of Interest For Nurses

Above, we’ve listed a few situations to help you deal with any conflicts of interest that may arise, but there are still a few things to consider. It is clear that conflicts of interest will not go away. Intangible and tangible conflicts of interest will always exist. Financial conflicts of interest will inevitably become more complex and involved. Devising new strategies to manage, reduce, or eliminate conflicts of interest will be an ongoing challenge.

Pharmacy reps will always try to influence you when it comes to new medications, so make sure you remain biased at all times. If a gift, donation or sponsorship of any value is offered, consider the possible motives of the giver and the potential for a conflict of interest. Recognize the potential for a gift, donation, or sponsorship to create an obligation. Understand that accepting even a small offering may influence your judgment, cause you to lose objectivity or appear to others as a conflict of interest. These conflicts of interest for nurses are a serious issue, so make sure you’re using your best judgment at all times.

What other conflicts of interest have you faced and how have you handled them?

Author: Troy Diffenderfer

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