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Doing What's Best for Patients: 1957 and 1997

John H. Kelly Jr
JAMA. 1997;278(13):1061-1062. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550130035025.
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To the Editor.  —"Doing what is best for patients"1 encapsulates the essence of what is good and noble in medicine and what can set it apart as a profession. As Dr Pellegrino observes, "suppression of self-interest to that of the patient" has historically constituted the heart of every medical code. I hope the new American Medical Association (AMA) Institute of Ethics will be a significant step toward making this truly the paradigm of the AMA.Dr Siegler cites Leon Kass' observation that the practice of ethics has at best improved our speech but not our deeds and goes on to state there is much evidence that the state of ethical medical practice is no better today than 30 years ago. Could that be related to the fact that today's AMA Principles of Medical Ethics compared with those of 1957 reveal significant emaciation and diminution of the fundamental principle of


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