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May 28, 1955


JAMA. 1955;158(4):255-257. doi:10.1001/jama.1955.02960040013004

The physician enjoys unique privileges and opportunities; on the other hand, he is burdened with special responsibilities and obligations. The law requires that, if he presumes to take professional care of a patient, he must possess and exercise that degree of skill and care that is commonly possessed and exercised by other reputable practitioners in the locality in caring for similar cases. The patient expects the physician to be a dedicated person—gentle and kind, always available, inexhaustibly patient, everlastingly resourceful, and possessed of endless charity.

Both law and ethics join in exhorting the physician to put the patient's interest above all else, in requiring him to hold the patient's communications in confidence and to act toward the patient with the utmost good faith at all times. Ethics is derived from the Greek ethos, and, by extension, as it is used, it means conforming to professional standards of conduct. To such