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A Piece of My Mind
December 2, 1998

Medical Practices Disappearing in the South

Author Affiliations

Edited by Roxanne K. Young, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 1998;280(21):1823. doi:10.1001/jama.280.21.1823

In recent months, several independent medical practices have disappeared from rural towns in the southeast United States. At first, Southern physicians suspected a conspiracy, alleging that someone dismantled their practices and sent them north as salvage. Northern physicians deny these accusations, however, citing similar occurrences of their own.

Pieces of some of these practices have started to reappear in unusual places. A nearly intact general practice from New Hope, Tennessee, churned to the top of a Wall Street buying surge a few months ago. Forty years of obstetrics evaporated in a sigh released by a physician who withdrew to a retirement home in Knoxville. The last known house call still surviving in captivity languishes in a managed care arena near Chattanooga. An executive secretary, who spoke only with the assurance of anonymity, reports seeing almost an ounce of compassion, preserved in a small glass bottle on the desk of a well-known medical executive. Independence, its head mounted on a varnished plaque, hangs as a trophy in the office of a high-ranking federal official.

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