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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 2151

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.


Publication type: Journal Article

Wynia MK, Latham SR, Kao AC, Berg JW, Emanuel LL.
Medical professionalism in society.
N Engl J Med 1999 Nov 18; 341:(21):1612-6

MeSH Terms: Dissent and Disputes* Ethics, Medical* Ethics, Professional Group Processes* Humans Moral Obligations* Patient Advocacy* Peer Review, Health Care Persons Physician's Role* Physicians* Professional Practice/standards* Public Health Social Justice Social Responsibility* Social Values* Sociology, Medical Virtues Vulnerable Populations


Today, at the dawn of a new century, genuine medical professionalism is in peril. Increasingly, physicians encounter perverse financial incentives, fierce market competition, and the erosion of patients’ trust,1,2,3,4,5,6,7 yet most physicians are ill equipped to deal with these threats.8,9 The role of professionalism has been so little discussed that it has virtually disappeared in the battle between those who favor market competition in a trillion-dollar industry and those who seek greater government regulation.8 Physicians, feeling trapped between these camps, are turning to . . .


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Far too large a section of the treatment of disease is to-day controlled by the big manufacturing pharmacists, who have enslaved us in a plausible pseudo-science...
The blind faith which some men have in medicines illustrates too often the greatest of all human capacities - the capacity for self deception...
Some one will say, Is this all your science has to tell us? Is this the outcome of decades of good clinical work, of patient study of the disease, of anxious trial in such good faith of so many drugs? Give us back the childlike trust of the fathers in antimony and in the lancet rather than this cold nihilism. Not at all! Let us accept the truth, however unpleasant it may be, and with the death rate staring us in the face, let us not be deceived with vain fancies...
we need a stern, iconoclastic spirit which leads, not to nihilism, but to an active skepticism - not the passive skepticism, born of despair, but the active skepticism born of a knowledge that recognizes its limitations and knows full well that only in this attitude of mind can true progress be made.
- William Osler 1909