The first law to regulate the practice of medicine in the American Colonies was enacted on this date in 1760. It stated that any person who wanted to practice "physick and surgery" in the city of New York must first be examined and approved of by one of His Majesty's Council, the judges of the Supreme Court, the King's attorney general and (in case this wasn't enough) the mayor of New York City. The penalty for setting up shop without fulfilling these requirements was a fine of five pounds. However, the licenses obtained by physicians in the 18th Century were, in many instances, just honorifics. Throughout the countryside, lay practitioners considered it an inalienable right to practice folk medicine and did so with little fear of punishment.
Copyright Aetna InteliHealth, Inc., 2011. All rights reserved.