Administrative Update  |   February 2015
Seeking Symmetry: At the Intersection of Altruism and Economics
Author Affiliations
  • Daniel J. Cole, M.D.
    ASA President-Elect
Article Information
Practice Management / Advocacy and Legislative Issues / Administrative Update
Administrative Update   |   February 2015
Seeking Symmetry: At the Intersection of Altruism and Economics
ASA Monitor 02 2015, Vol.79, 6-7.
ASA Monitor 02 2015, Vol.79, 6-7.
The term “social contract” has long been used to define medicine’s relationship with society. A “contract” is a two-way agreement that has both explicit and implicit expectations for both parties. The expectations of medicine by society have been described in the literature and include placing the patient’s interests above our own (altruism), ensuring competence, addressing issues of societal concern and being devoted to the public good. Conversely, the medical profession has expectations of society that include self-regulation, an adequately funded health care system and a role in public policy determination.1 
Altruism is core to the public trust of physicians, public confidence in the health care system, and the authority of advice by physicians regarding public policy on health and health care. A recent study reported that trust in the health care system and physicians were low in the United States.2  This is indeed a troubling finding. If the medical profession is to have a prominent voice in the development of public policy on health care, the public’s trust of our profession must be unimpeachable. Fundamental to improving the public trust are health policy goals that improve the public’s health and the nation’s health care.
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