August 4, 1978

The Health Care 'Team'?

Author Affiliations

St Louis Park Medical Center Diabetes Education Center Minneapolis

JAMA. 1978;240(5):435. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03290050025008

To the Editor.—  The commentary, "The Health Care Team" by Emil P. Taxay, MD (239:1137, 1978), demands an immediate response. The statement that "the practice of medicine is not a team activity..." is refuted by the definition of the word "team" itself. According to Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, a "team" is defined as "a number of persons associated together in work or activity."As late as the 18th and 19th centuries, physicians in this country maintained solo practices in which they diagnosed disease, compounded the medication, and collected the fees themselves. Even then, however, they worked with other persons, namely, the patients themselves, without whose presence they could not have functioned.Fortunately, medicine has made astronomical strides since those days, and few physicians would admit they possess all of the knowledge, skills, and time required to be all things to all patients. Consequently, groups of skilled health professionals join