Annals of Internal Medicine is published by the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine (ACP-ASIM), an organization of more than 115,000 internal medicine physicians and medical students. The following highlights are not intended to substitute for articles as sources of information. For an embargoed fax of an article, call 1-800-523-1546, ext. 2656 or 215-351-2656.
Digitalis, nitroglycerin and graham crackers were once considered alternative medicine. Bleeding, mercury and antimony were once used as medical therapies by elite educated physicians but are not part of the modern physician's arsenal. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has a long, well-established history in the United States. Then and now, CAM has fluid boundaries and often changing definitions of what is considered conventional or alternative.
Annals of Internal Medicine launches a series on CAM in this issue with articles exploring the rich history of medical pluralism in the United States, classifying the hundreds of current alternative medical therapies into eight categories such as New Age practices, mind-body systems, and religious healing, and evaluating the evidence for effectiveness. (Articles, p. 189 and p. 196; editorial, p. 208.)
The American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine (ACP-ASIM) officially opposes the legalization of physician-assisted suicide, even in limited circumstances, according to a position paper in this issue (Position Paper, p. 209). The paper acknowledges a patient's right to withdraw from or refuse medical treatment but distinguishes those acts from euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. ACP-ASIM says that physicians "must solve the real and pressing problems of inadequate care (at end of life), not avoid them through solutions such as physician-assisted suicide."
(Article, p. 175.)