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Traditional—perhaps medieval in origin—was the assumption that practitioners should provide free treatment or reduced rates to the poor, securing compensation through higher than average charges to the wealthy. Whether colonial practitioners also gave "courtesy" (free) service to one another (as did English physicians) is not clear, though this procedure probably emerged later with the development of an organized profession.—Shryock, R. H., Medicine and Society in America, 1660-1860, New York University Press, 1960, p. 13.
INDIGENT CARE. JAMA. 1961;175(9):803. doi:10.1001/jama.1961.03040090063018