BMJ 1996; 313 doi: (Published 21 December 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:1596
  1. Ralph Crawshaw, physiciana
  1. a 2525 NW Lovejoy, Portland, Oregon 97210, United States

    Greed, now there is a subject to turn off a medical audience, to send patients packing. I know, having been laughed off the podium for broaching the subject at a medical meeting, this despite the “Me” generation's glorification of greed in films such as Wall Street.1 Granted that the exchange of money, albeit tax money, information, medications, and information between doctor and patient is generally respected as an ethical enterprise yet with the doctor and patient relationship it is never out of place to cock a clinical eye at any nidus of greed.

    Greed is frequently thought of as excessive acquisitiveness for money. Chaucer underlined medical greed by describing the Doctour of Phisik as, “lovede gold in special.”2 The medieval church was more explicit, placing the medical profession in a class with usurers. The judgment proved …

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