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August 26, 1974

New Chains for Prometheus

JAMA. 1974;229(9):1213-1214. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230470055030

Medicine is under attack from many directions. Weapons range from barbs of innuendo and vituperation, aimed at the individual physicians, to cannonballs targeted on medical institutions. Practicing physicians are accused of venality, of catering to the rich while neglecting the poor. Medical research scientists are criticized for callousness to the suffering of experimental animals. Clinical investigators are reprimanded for disregarding human rights. The profession as a whole is taken to task for opposing socialized medicine, for willfully restricting its numbers and, above all, for playing God in making decisions on matters involving religious, moral, and philosophical considerations.

All too familiar, these and other accusations, pointing to medicine's actual or alleged shortcomings, may provoke resentment, contrition, doubt, or indignation. The response will depend largely on the individual physician's assessment of how his performance measures up to the ideals of medicine. But what will the response be to an attack on these