The impact of United States law on medicine as a profession

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



JAMA - Journal of the American Medical Association


Volume 289, Issue 12

Inclusive Pages



Clinical Medicine--legislation & jurisprudence; Ethics, Medical; Health Policy--legislation & jurisprudence; Legislation, Medical; Practice Management, Medical--trends; Workforce Issues


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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Peer Reviewed


Open Access