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JAMA 100 Years Ago
December 15, 2004


Author Affiliations

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2004;292(23):2926. doi:10.1001/jama.292.23.2926-a

The Iowa legislators who framed the medical-practice law of that state obviously intended it to guard the public against unqualified persons who might profess to heal disease. This intent seems to have been grasped by the Supreme Court of Iowa in two recent decisions. In one case the irregular practitioner was apparently an eye specialist, prescribing spectacles, exercise and diet, while the other was a magnetic healer, claiming to cure practically all human ailments, but especially cancer. The defendants had been acquitted by the lower courts on the misconceived ground that, as they gave no medicine or drugs, they, therefore, did not need to take out a license under the state law. The Supreme Court reversed these acquittals, and holds that the defendants violated the law. The ground covered by the decisions seems sufficiently comprehensive to include nearly every form of quackery, and to make it impossible to thus impose on the credulous and ignorant in Iowa. It is hoped that this precedent will be followed in other states where quackery of this kind has had too free a field. It gives us confidence in the general good sense as well as in the legal knowledge of the courts. We trust that there will always be as much good sense and legal knowledge shown in future cases involving the protection of the public health.

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