Over the past few years, a couple of medical journals have quite regularly published articles on the torture and abuse of prisoners and detainees and the duty of physicians. Among the most active on this topic have been JAMA, Annals of Internal Medicine, Lancet, and BMJ; a PubMed
search for articles with "torture" in the title turns up 589 hits. Until now, it's been easy to dismiss those articles as being of little relevance to most American physicians, let alone the general public. But as a letter in today's NY Times
reminds us, "military doctors at Abu Ghraib returned several times to 'stitch wounds, tend to collapsed prisoners or see patients with bruised or reddened genitals' ('Only a Few Spoke Up on Abuse as Many Soldiers Stayed Silent,' front page, May 22). . . . As a medical student, I know that under those circumstances, any doctor should have known that torture was going on in the prison. The fact that those physicians did not speak up constitutes an abandonment of their duties both as soldiers and as doctors."