Medical devices have emerged as an important clinical option to treat certain serious diseases for which there are no equivalently effective surgical or pharmaceutical alternatives. Although all clinical activities impose high ethical standards of comportment to protect patients, medical device R&D and product application have a number of relatively unique aspects that distinguish them from other technologies such as pharmaceuticals. These include the following: R&D project selection; regulatory requirements, and their intended and unintended effects; when is a new product design sufficiently safe and effective for routine use in patients; and, physician-industry relationships in the innovation process in the context of real or perceived conflict of interest (COI). Each of these factors has implications for the delivery of care, health care leadership, and patient well-being.
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