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The neglected repercussions of a physician advertising ban
  1. Sandra Zwier
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sandra Zwier, ASCoR, University of Amsterdam, Kloveniersburgwal 48, Amsterdam 1012 CX, The Netherlands; s.m.zwier{at}uva.nl

Abstract

Although the adverse implications of physician advertising are the subject of a fierce and sustained debate, there is almost no scholarly discussion on the ethical repercussions of physician advertising bans. The present paper draws attention to these repercussions as they exist today in most of the world, with particular focus on three serious implications for the public: (a) uncertainty about the physician's interests, namely, that patients must trust the physician to put patient wellbeing ahead of possible gains when taking medical decisions; (b) uncertainty about alternative treatments, namely, that patients must trust in the physician's treatment decisions; and (c) uncertainty about the exclusive patient–physician relationship, namely, that patients must develop and maintain a good relationship with one physician. Physician advertising bans continue to tell the public in most of the modern world that these are irrelevant or inappropriate issues, meaning that they are effectively left to the public to resolve.

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