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November 13, 1991

Should Physicians Treat Patients Who Seek Second Opinions?-Reply

Author Affiliations

American Medical Association Chicago, Ill

American Medical Association Chicago, Ill

JAMA. 1991;266(18):2558. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03470180058018

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In Reply.  —Several professions, including medicine, have in the past adopted ethical rules that were found by the courts to be unduly restrictive of competition, and therefore unlawful. Simply put, the medical profession must maintain an ethical code that does not violate the antitrust laws. This does not mean that physicians are required by law to behave unethically. For example, as Dr Cohen correctly points out, many physicians do not wish to treat patients who seek second opinions. This position is both ethical and lawful. The antitrust laws merely mandate that each physician reach this decision independently, for it is also appropriate ethically and lawfully for physicians to treat patients who seek second opinions.The Supreme Court has unequivocally decided that the medical profession and its ethical rules are subject to the Sherman Act. My article attempted to show that the profession can maintain strong ethical principles that are consistent