Ethics Case Studies in Biodesign

Case 12 - An Invitation to Dinner

You are a fellow in training in the Cardiovascular Division at your medical center. You receive an invitation by e-mail to attend a special dinner meeting sponsored by a pharmaceutical company. The company has often supplied pizza for the Division’s journal club meetings and you have met the drug company sales representative there. The dinner will be at the best restaurant in town and the single speaker is one of your attending physicians. The subject is current treatment of congestive heart failure, and you know the faculty–speaker is on this company’s “Speakers Bureau”. One of the senior fellows tells you he was surprised to be given a PDA when he attended a similar dinner last year but the food was great.

  • Is this an educational activity or a sales/advertising activity as far as you can tell?
  • Does that determination make a difference in your decision regarding attending the meeting? If so, why?
  • How does the desire to dine at this restaurant affect your judgment?
  • How does the potential for a desirable and useful gift affect your judgment?
  • What therapies will be discussed at this meeting?
  • Do you think you might hear something new that was not discussed in other meetings where this faculty member talked about his areas of interest?
  • Can you discuss the content and goal of the meeting with your attending faculty member?
  • If you do not attend, what influence will that action have on your relationship with the faculty-speaker?
  • Should you attend?