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JAMA 100 Years Ago
May 12, 1999


Author Affiliations

JenniferReiling, Editorial Assistant

JAMA. 1999;281(18):1674J. doi:10.1001/jama.281.18.1674J

The Governor of the State of New York has signed a bill, which therefore becomes a law, and it is to be hoped that it will help to prevent one of the well-known abuses of medical charity. It provides that all dispensaries shall be incorporated and governed by rules and regulations framed by the State board of charities, by which body they shall be controlled. Each dispensary must have a license and must properly guard against unworthy applicants, any violation of this rule on the part of the dispensary or its patients being made a misdemeanor subject to a fine of from $10 to $250. Such a law properly enforced will be of inestimable service to the profession, and indirectly to the public in enforcing a better standard of self-respect upon those whose example is at present demoralizing. . . . According to an editorial in the Brooklyn paper, the New York free dispensaries are a regular resort for out-of-town patients who are thus able to spend the money for a railroad trip that ought to be paid to their local physician. According to this paper's informant, a score of dispensary patients come daily from towns along one single line of railroad. Undoubtedly similar conditions exist in the vicinity of other great cities. As members of the medical profession we must not forget that in a measure we are ourselves responsible for these abuses. The multiplication of dispensaries has not always been a pure charity on our part, it has been too much the result of a demand for clinic material in our over numerous medical schools. A law like that in New York, thoroughly and impartially enforced, might disturb some of these institutions but it would be none the less a blessing to our profession.