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JAMA 100 Years Ago
July 8, 2009

SECRECY VERSUS LACK OF KNOWLEDGE IN MEDICINE

JAMA. 2009;302(2):204. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.966

The Midland Druggist and Pharmaceutical Review seems disposed to give members of the medical profession some kind and disinterested advice, and it is pained to see that we adhere to the benighted notion that secrecy in medicine is to be condemned. To quote:

“As to secrecy of composition, does the physician know the inner nature of the antitoxins and serums which he prescribes, or has he fathomed the chemical mysteries of digitalis, ergot, and dozens of other articles of materia medica which are yet largely sealed books to the chemist? He uses these articles solely because experience has taught their value in the treatment of certain pathologic conditions, and he would in the highest degree be negligent and false to the trust reposed in him by his patient should he refuse to prescribe a known valuable remedy simply because its composition happens to be unknown to him. The patient calls his physician not merely to prescribe the treatment that has received the approval of some official body, but because he believes he will prescribe the remedies which experience has demonstrated to be useful in the affection from which the patient suffers.”

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