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July 5, 1971

A Quality of Mercy: A Report on the Critical Condition of Hospital and Medical Care in America

Author Affiliations

American Medical Association Chicago

JAMA. 1971;217(1):84. doi:10.1001/jama.1971.03190010066034

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No American can be unaware that we have a "health care crisis" on our hands. So A Quality of Mercy, which agonizes over runaway costs, manpower shortage, alienated physicians, choked hospitals, overdoctored suburbs and deprived neighborhoods, offers us no surprises. Neither does it propose any new solutions. Yet despite several inaccuracies (especially with regard to everybody's whipping boy, the AMA), a tendency to rant, and more than a trace of holier-than-thou, the book contains meat enough for anxiety. In particular, the chapters on the insidious influence of the pharmaceutical industry and on the basic philosophic flaws in a peer review system need careful attention by any physician liable to encounter articulate critics of the status quo.

The book has other defects. Author Greenberg, a medical journalist from Rhode Island, has chosen to use a day in the life of Boston's Beth Israel Hospital as his stalking horse. But instead of