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Viewpoint |

Excellence in Medicine and the Case for Aspirational Ethics

Jonathan Kantor, MD, MSCE, MA1,2; Boris D. Lushniak, MD, MPH3
[+] Author Affiliations
1Department of Dermatology, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
2Florida Center for Dermatology, PA, St Augustine
3Department of Preventive Medicine and Biostatistics, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland
JAMA Dermatol. 2016;152(9):971-972. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2016.2135.
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This Viewpoint proposes aspiring to medical ethics excellence.

What is ethics? In the more than 2 centuries since the 1803 publication of Medical Ethics by Thomas Percival,1 physicians, ethicists, and the public have grappled with bioethics’ positive and proscription boundaries. Percival appreciated the emerging dichotomy between the “study of professional ethics … [which] cannot fail to invigorate and enlarge your understanding … [and] the observance of the duties which they enjoin.”1(pviii-ix)

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Figure.
The Medical Ethics Bell Curve

Although ethical actions are not truly normally distributed, it is helpful to conceptualize them to appreciate the discordance between our area of historical focus (the left tail) and our proposed area of ideal focus (the right tail).

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