Physician compensation, past and present

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjusa.03050004 (Published 18 November 2003)
Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:E224

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  1. Renate G Justin (rjustin@greyrock.org)
  1. Fort Collins, Colorado

    From BMJ USA 2003;May:276

    Since earliest times, wise men have experimented with various methods of compensating physicians. Fee for service is the oldest documented model. The Code of Hammurabi (1792 - 1750 BC) specified physicians' fees: “If a doctor has healed a freeman's bone or has restored diseased flesh,… the patient shall give the doctor five shekels of silver.” The Mesopotamian rulers set the amount to be paid for each procedure, just as the Canadian government does today.

    In 2000 BC, Egyptian physicians were salaried, employed by the army or the temple. They would not charge for services, only for the medication they dispensed. …

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