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A matter of ethics.

A Matter of Ethics

The relationship between doctors and patients is undergoing change, not entirely for the better. In addition to the many malpractice suits that are flourishing, many patients are being weaned away from the medical profession by other practitioners ranging from alternative healers to irresponsible cynical quacks.

What unites these disparate groups is dissatisfaction with the perceived inflexibility of the medical profession. Rather than perform as leaders, too often doctors reluctantly embrace new ideas years later. Advances in nutritional therapy, critics charge, is a perfect example.

How should the medical profession respond? When governments undertook the task of licensing practitioners several hundred years ago, the purpose was to protect the populace from untrained, inept, and unethical behavior. The regulation of doctors, however, was left to the profession itself. Medical associations and guilds too often exercised control that hindered scientific initiative.

Because self-regulation of physicians by their medical societies sometimes produced a "clubhouse" effect and because dissident doctors found themselves ostracized if they didn't subscribe to treatments laid down by their societies, dissatisfaction arose from within the profession itself and bolstered the critics' arguments.

For example, if a physician does not deal with cancer cases by using chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation and the patient should die after being treated by nutritional means, the physician could lose his standing in the local medical society.

Other criticism deals with lack of responsibility by medical organizations that failed to ensure the competence and reliability of some of their members. Renegade physicians have been known to commit horrible errors and to move on to other geographical areas with no attempt by the association to pursue them and prevent further malpractice.

Medicine is an honorable profession and does not entirely deserve the cynicism that has generated from a public offended by some doctors who are more interested in enriching themselves or have little desire to enhance their skills and talents.

Neither socialized medicine nor government regulations will rectify the abuses of power and arrogance of privilege. The principle of self-regulation is still valid. Physicians can take note of political upheavals around the world in which more democratic participation is demanded. Medical societies could benefit by similar overhauling.
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Title Annotation:reforms needed in medical societies that regulate physicians
Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Article Type:editorial
Date:Mar 22, 1990
Previous Article:Science and the genocidal mentality.
Next Article:The nutrition Tower of Babel.

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