Modern medicine is one of the largest and most profitable industries in the world, and revolves around what the authors call the ‘medical-industrial complex’, a system that aims to generate as much profit as possible, even if it means perpetuating corruption. This complex relies on various players, especially health insurance companies, doctors, and above all, pharmaceutical companies. Doctors very often build close relationships with these companies that push them to put profit before the health and well-being of their patients.
Of course, not all doctors are corrupt, but it is still important that we, as patients, have a basic understanding of how modern medicine works, so that we can determine whether to trust our doctor’s diagnosis, or whether to question their judgement. In some cases, doctors can do patients a real disservice, for example by offering a drug or procedure that suits their own interests, but which may actually be too aggressive for the patient, who may derive more benefit from less invasive alternatives.
The healthcare sector is particularly susceptible to corruption, as it is an industry that requires huge investments, in which demand is unpredictable and often exceeds supply. Several factors make it particularly prone to corruption, including weak or non-existent rules and regulations, poor communication between the various different individuals and companies working in the sector, and the fact that health professionals generally receive low salaries.
Corruption in the healthcare sector is a real problem in the United States, and affects all kinds of professionals and institutions, from doctors, hospitals, and the hospital system, to insurers, lawyers, and pharmaceutical companies. Studies confirm, however, that this kind of corruption is also an issue in many other countries around the world.
Even though there are countless health professionals who make it their mission to truly help their patients, as is so often the case, it only takes a few bad apples at the top to undermine the stability of an otherwise honest and patient-centred sector.