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April 28, 1999

Self-prescribing by Physicians

Author Affiliations

Margaret A.WinkerMD, Deputy EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Interim CoeditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 1999;281(16):1488-1490. doi:10-1001/pubs.JAMA-ISSN-0098-7484-281-16-jbk0428

To the Editor: The study by Dr Christie and colleagues1 presents some very interesting and disturbing findings. However, the study fails to recognize that self-prescription and self-treatment have already been determined to be an unethical practice, according to the opinion of the Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs of the American Medical Association. The Council's policy states, "Physicians should generally not treat themselves or members of their immediate family."2 Exceptions are made for emergencies or in isolated instances when no other physician is available. The reasoning behind this policy is similar to the concerns articulated by Christie and colleagues. Self-treatment raises questions regarding professional objectivity and the assurance of quality medical care.

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