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REMARKS ON THE EXPLANATORY DECLARATIONS
THAT these declarations were called for is evidenced in their preamble. However, as the super-censorious spirit dwells in many, the objectors are not few and are ever ready to traverse almost anything; so they disapprove of the adjective explanatory as a qualifier of the declarations; their chief ground of objection being that a thing requiring explanation can not be good, so, according to this sophism nothing is good here below, for every terrestrial thing requires definition which is a condensed explanation. Assuredly there are many good things on this earth, and one of them is this very system of morals which is so conducive to good actions, and which, in part at least, has been so sorely assailed and misinterpreted as to require definition. The physician who inspired these declarations used the following precedent to justify his views, and said that certain doctrines of the church were never defined until they were attacked; then the definition made was irrevokable. A certain part of this system of morals having been attacked called for the able definition which was made. A definition being a concise
explanation, the adjective explanatory was suitable and proper to the case.
These liberal Explanatory Declarations failed entirely to appease the wrath of the disaffected who have never ceased their unbecoming agitation.
THE ABSTRACT OF THE NATIONAL SYSTEM
DURING the period between the years 1890 and 1901, the demand having been made so repeatedly by a new crop of malcontents, for "abbreviation" of the system of 1847, the New York State Medical Association offered to the National Association, in the year 1902, a carefully prepared abstract of the system of laws of 1847, which was adopted in 1903, after having been shorn of some of its most important provisions, and after the addition of two sections on organization whose place in a system of morals is questionable. With some other additions whose necessity is not apparent, that abstract of the National system of laws was given out only "as a suggestive and advisory document." So the true student of medical morals will always have to go back to the original system of 1847 for such information as is not contained in the abstract, In the preface to this abstract it is, distinctly stated that all local societies may establish their own rules of conduct provided they do not interfere with the principles of the National Association. It is therefore fair to conclude that any of these societies may adopt the whole system of 1847 if so disposed. The modified abstract is as follows:
The American Medical Association promulgates as a suggestive and advisory document the following:
CHAPTER I.-THE DUTIES OF PHYSICIANS TO THEIR PATIENTS
SECTION 1. Physicians should not only be ever ready to obey the calls of the sick and the injured, but should be mindful of the high character of their mission and of the responsibilities they must incur in the discharge of momentous duties. In their ministrations they should never forget that the comfort, the health, and the lives of those entrusted to their care depend on skill, attention and fidelity. In deportment they should unite tenderness, cheerfulness and firmness, and thus inspire all sufferers with gratitude, respect and confidence. These observances are the more sacred because, generally, the only tribunal to adjudge penalties for unkindness, carelessness or neglect is their own conscience.
SEC. 2. Every patient committed to the charge of a physician should be treated with attention and humanity, and reasonable indulgence should be granted to the caprices of the sick. Secrecy and delicacy should be strictly observed; and the familiar and confidential intercourse to which physicians are admitted, in their professional visits, should be guarded with the most scrupulous fidelity and honor.
SEC. 3.-The obligation of secrecy extends beyond the period of professional services; none of the privacies of individual or domestic life, no infirmity of disposition or
flaw of character observed during medical attendance, should ever be divulged by physicians, except when imperatively required by the laws of the state. The force of the obligation of secrecy is so great that physicians have been protected in its observance by courts of justice.
SEC. 4. Frequent visits to the sick are often requisite, since they enable the physician to arrive at a more perfect knowledge of the disease, and to meet promptly every change which may occur. Unnecessary visits are to be avoided, as they give undue anxiety to the patient; but to secure the patient against irritating suspense and disappointment the regular and periodical visits of the physician should be made as nearly as possible at the hour when they may be reasonably expected by the patient.
SEC. 5. Ordinarily, the physician should not be forward to make gloomy prognostications, but should not fail, on proper occasions, to give timely notice of dangerous manifestations to the friends of the patient; and even to the patient, if absolutely necessary. This notice, however, is at times so peculiarly alarming when given by the physician, that its deliverance may often be preferably assigned to another person of good judgment.
SEC. 6. The physician should be a minister of hope and comfort to the sick, since life may be lengthened or shortened not only by the acts but by the words or manner of the physician, whose solemn duty is to avoid all utterances and actions having a tendency to discourage and depress the patient.