Medicine: Justified Deception

One January day last year, a woman visited Gynecologist Joseph Steven Deane in Queens County, New York City, and said she had syphilis. Several doctors had told her she was mistaken but she thought they were "in league" against her. Dr. Deane had a Wassermann test made by the Board of Health. When the test came out negative, he suspected his patient was suffering from syphilophobia—a symptom often caused by fear of sex. Thinking he could cure the woman more easily if he humored her, Dr. Deane changed the Board of Health report to "positive." Then he prescribed a red tonic,...

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