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Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to explore the legal and ethical implications of pro bono health care services in the United States and abroad. The research regarding volunteer or pro bono health services has focused mainly on physician involvement in volunteer medical services, or pro bono health services, with research showing only 39% of physicians, compared to 30% of general public, taking part in volunteer services to patients and the community (Grande, D, and Armstrong, K, 2007). Historically, pro bono services were derived from the Canons of Professional Ethics in 1908 and evolved into the Model Code of Professional Responsibility in 1969 and finally the Model Rules of Professional Conduct in 1983. The World Health Organization developed the Commission on the Social Determinants of Health in 2005, which include the following goals: (1) Improving living conditions (2) Addressing the inequitable distribution of power, money, and resources, and (3) Measuring and understanding the related problems (WHO, 2008). In the final report, the four areas of concern included socioeconomic factors, patient health care accessibility, health care rationing, and patient advocacy. Pro bono health services are one method of addressing the health care accessibility and socioeconomic factors surrounding the current dilemma in health care.

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