Is my doctor being dishonest?

My doctor works for a medical device company, are they dishonest?

By Dr. Killeen, published on July 6, 2021

is my doctor dishonest header

Do I have a dishonest doctor? My patients often ask me this question, and the answer is probably no, but you need to consider who is paying your doctor. A lot of physicians work as consultants for various companies. Having worked as a consultant for a wide range of companies (skincare, implants, injectables, even a cardiac device company! ), I am able to appreciate how rewarding this can be for your doctor. We have access to new and exciting products in development and can provide feedback on their use and design.

For our expertise, these companies pay a consulting fee. Some doctors also receive payment for speaking engagements. A speaker usually demonstrates how to use a company’s product or device to doctors or other practitioners. Doctors involved in these relationships are not required to use only that product, nor are they prohibited from pointing out any problems or negative aspects of it. As you probably guessed, doctors tend to work for companies they like and believe in.

How does this affect your doctor’s care and use of the products? Studies have shown that something as small as a free pen can influence a doctor’s behavior. A physician needs to be aware of these biases when giving recommendations to patients. Each and every one of us has biases. Therefore, we must keep this in mind and make recommendations that are as free from them as possible. A bias itself shouldn’t invalidate recommendations or research; it simply means that you need to take that into account when evaluating what has been presented.

As a patient, you should never hesitate to ask your doctor if they consult for any medical companies and if this influences their recommendations for you. If there are other brands or devices they do not recommend, feel free to ask them why they do not use or recommend them. For example, I typically use implants made by Allergan. They are great devices and we have a consignment in our operating room which makes ordering and using simple. I would not hesitate to use either Sientra or Mentor implants if my situation changes and I am at a facility that works with those companies.

The world of plastic surgery is unusual compared to other medical specialties. Sales are intertwined with medicine. Many plastic surgeons carry skincare products, supplements, and own lasers and devices. These products are likely to be recommended to you. As such, this is also not a concern, but if your surgeon insists on carrying a particular brand without a good explanation of why it’s better, you should also be aware of that.

Most surgeons carry brands and devices they trust, which is why we recommend them. You should never feel uncomfortable asking your surgeon why that brand or device is recommended, and again, the surgeon should have good reasons for their recommendations.