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JAMA 100 Years Ago
March 8, 2006


Author Affiliations

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2006;295(10):1196. doi:10.1001/jama.295.10.1196

Recent investigations into business methods have unearthed a degree of corruption which is almost incredible to those unacquainted with the conditions and which have been destructive of confidence in the integrity of the modern commercial world. With no intention of self-righteous boasting and no desire of condoning unjustifiable practices, we are proud to believe that the medical profession is freer from graft than any other equal number of men in the ranks of a profession or business. And this is as it should be. The relation of a patient to his physician is a most intimate one, and one in which implicit confidence is the very foundation of the relationship. The patient puts his life and his health unhesitatingly in his physician's hands; he feels that even if his physician lacks skill or needs assistance in an emergency he at least is honest and will do what seems best for the patient's interests. But it would be remarkable, considering the almost universal prevalence of “graft,” if some doctor did not abuse this relationship. This he does in the so-called division of fees, a species of graft that we are compelled to acknowledge does exist, although undoubtedly it is extremely rare. While there is a probability of any of this kind of business going on it demands that we give thought to the matter. It is something we can not afford to treat in an ostrich fashion.