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Medical Protest Called Breach of Oath

February 09, 1986|United Press International

BOSTON — A state legislator Saturday accused obstetricians and orthopedic surgeons of violating the Hippocratic oath by withholding medical treatment in the second week of a physicians' work slowdown to protest rising malpractice insurance rates.

"Doctors have taken an oath to serve those in need of services, and to do otherwise is wrong," said Rep. A. Joseph DeNucci (D-Newton), co-chairman of the Human Service Committee.

As the slowdown, involving about 600 eastern Massachusetts doctors, enters its second week, hard-pressed community hospitals continued to transfer patients with broken bones to four Boston teaching hospitals where doctors were not taking part in the slowdown. Hospital officials said that many pregnant women have been turned away.

"No one can understand a doctor withholding a service that's needed," DeNucci said. "They're doctors, not merchants, and they must be there to serve the public. I interpret their oath as doing just that."

The doctors say they cannot afford an average 62% increase in malpractice insurance premiums that is effective April 30.

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