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April 1986

The Pressures on Our Standards of Ethics

Author Affiliations

Woodside, Calif

Arch Ophthalmol. 1986;104(4):497. doi:10.1001/archopht.1986.01050160053010

There can be no question that the standards of acceptable ethical behavior are under great duress. I believe this has occurred for two reasons.

THE GOVERNMENT  The government, through its regulatory agencies, has deliberately attempted to convert the practice of medicine into a trade to promote competition for competition's sake, with the notion that this will somehow lower the cost of medical care.Prior to 1975, the courts held that the forms of competition that were present in the business world may be demoralizing to the ethical standards of a profession. In 1975, in the Goldfarb decision,1 the Court held that learned professions are a trade because members of learned professions charge for services and therefore are subject to the antitrust laws. In 1977, in Bates vs Arizona State Bar,2 it was held that advertising by professions cannot be restricted unless it is false or misleading. In 1982,

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