The evolution of US law has had an enormous influence on medicine as
a profession, and much of this legal evolution can be attributed to changes
in the science and practice of medicine. This changing legal framework and
its intersection with medicine has many facets. Three of the most important
facets concern the evolution of the no duty-to-treat principle and the role
of modern health care financing and civil rights law in altering this rule,
the manner in which advances in medicine led courts and legislatures to change
the standards against which professional medical liability is measured, and
the basic loss of highly preferential treatment under US laws aimed at preventing
anticompetitive conduct by businesses. However, despite the impact on the
profession of an evolving legal system, concern over the integrity of medical
professionalism continues to significantly influence both laws and lawmakers,
including legislatures, regulatory agencies, and the courts.
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