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February 16, 1976

Trade or Profession?

JAMA. 1976;235(7):756-757. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03260330050029

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In recent years the Federal government and its agencies repeatedly have attempted to control the practice of medicine. The latest quixotic sortie has been made by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against the ethical code of the medical profession. The FTC contends that Madison Avenue hucksterism is the appropriate mechanism for establishing a patient-doctor relationship. The American Medical Association holds that medical need and professional competence should establish this relationship.

The code of medical ethics recognizes the rules of decent behavior that for centuries have governed people of good will and intention. This code of ethical principles did not originate through government legislation or from bureaucratic regulation. It evolved simply because these rules, or principles, were right in the very nature of things.

The competent physician does not advertise skill; it is self-evident. The compassionate physician does not advertise compassion but practices it. Physicians bring compassion, skill, and knowledge to