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July 1, 1992

How the Doctor Got Gagged

Author Affiliations

Edward Hospital Association Naperville, Ill

JAMA. 1992;268(1):50. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03490010052016

To the Editor.  —The article by Sugarman and Powers entitled "How the Doctor Got Gagged"1 incorrectly characterizes the recent Supreme Court decision in Rust v Sullivan2 as a "significant departure from established precedent." Apparently, this "significant departure" follows from their misperception of a general recognition by the judiciary of a right to "unrestricted communication within the physician-patient relationship." In reality, there is a long history of judicial tolerance of governmental regulation of physician-patient communication. Moreover, there is nothing in the constitution that explicitly denies the right of the people to regulate the delivery of medical care.One may ask, wouldn't we be better off if there was a recognized right to privacy in physician-patient communications? Indeed, as a practicing physician, I believe there should be such a right. The recent Supreme Court decision in Rust does not close the door to the establishment of such a right. What