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February 22, 1965

Are 200,000 Doctors Wrong?

Author Affiliations

Dr. Ward is President of the American Medical Association.

JAMA. 1965;191(8):661-663. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03080080051014

Are 200,000 doctors wrong? I put the question first to the members of this House: Is it possible for an entire profession of dedicated men and women—engaged in all the arts, the sciences, and the practices of merciful healing—to be so nearly of one mind about a matter affecting human health, and at the same time to be wrong?

Is it possible, my colleagues in medicine, for us to go forth every day among 190 million Americans, to be with them in our offices, in their homes, in hospitals and clinics, to be with them at birth and death and the most critical moments of their lives— is it possible for all of us to be so close to all of them all the time in all these places—and still be wrong?

My answer—and do not be shocked—is yes, we have been wrong!

Oh, no, not wrong in our assessment

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