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May 1991

Indigent Patient Care—Then and Now

Author Affiliations

Fairfield, Me

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1991;117(5):484-485. doi:10.1001/archotol.1991.01870170030004

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Care of the indigent patient was the physician's responsibility and privilege in the 1940s, as it had been for an eternity before. Every physician recognized his responsibility to provide this care and donated one half day or one whole day a week to the care of these patients. The care that the patients received was generally excellent and, in some instances, better than that provided for the paying patient. Often an effort was made to contain the expense of the patient with medium income so that he did not receive the generous laboratory testing and diagnostic workup, which was freely accorded to both the indigent and the wealthy. The patient's contribution was to provide an opportunity for medical students and residents to learn the rudiments of medicine and patient care from their illnesses.

In cities, there were large hospital clinics, for the purpose of caring for indigents, staffed by the

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