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September 7, 1907


JAMA. 1907;XLIX(10):857. doi:10.1001/jama.1907.02530100045011

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A Missouri court has decided that a physician's fees can not legitimately be based to any degree on the patient's income. Besides being subversive of a custom of the profession that has prevailed at all times and in all places, the logical result of this decision would be to raise the standard of physicians' fees on ordinary commercial principles to the highest amount ordinarily obtainable, instead of the present custom of placing them at a medium between that and the lowest acceptable, which makes it possible for the physician to exercise a humane charity in the case of the less well-to-do without either pauperizing them or impoverishing himself. The physician's services, it seems, are to have a trade valuation like a loaf of bread or a pound of sugar, so that their value to the patient is in no sense dependent on the latter's economic importance. If that is so,

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