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April 8, 2009

The Ethical Foundation of American Medicine: In Search of Social Justice

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Association of American Medical Colleges, Washington, DC.

JAMA. 2009;301(14):1482-1484. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.456

Following a historic electoral transition accompanied by an economic downturn unprecedented in the lives of most US residents, attention has once again turned to improving the cost and effectiveness of health care in the United States. While many have described the dysfunctional aspects of the US health care system,1 the focus has prioritized issues of payment systems2 and delivery models3 over a fundamental underlying ethical conflict. Within an ethical context, it is important to discuss how the commercialization of medicine has fostered a distortion of emphasis among the basic tenets of medical ethics, and how this unbalanced emphasis has created serious barriers to improving the health care system.

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