Author Affiliations: Association of American Medical Colleges, Washington, DC.
Following a historic electoral transition accompanied by an economic downturn unprecedented in the lives of most US residents, attention has once again turned to improving the cost and effectiveness of health care in the United States. While many have described the dysfunctional aspects of the US health care system,1 the focus has prioritized issues of payment systems2 and delivery models3 over a fundamental underlying ethical conflict. Within an ethical context, it is important to discuss how the commercialization of medicine has fostered a distortion of emphasis among the basic tenets of medical ethics, and how this unbalanced emphasis has created serious barriers to improving the health care system.
Kirch DG, Vernon DJ. The Ethical Foundation of American MedicineIn Search of Social Justice. JAMA. 2009;301(14):1482-1484. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.456