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    Following a physician code of conduct

    A company’s good reputation is undone by “dirty trick”

    "It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it." —Benjamin Franklin


    When I was an assistant professor, my faculty colleagues and I parked in an underground lot beneath the clinic.  A friend of mine, also a faculty member, drove a German-made car with a diesel engine.  One day we arrived at the same time and I teased him about his car.

    “I don’t consider myself a tree hugger, but I wish I didn’t have to breathe that diesel exhaust first thing in the morning,” I complained. 

    “You’ve got it all wrong.  My engine ‘s emissions are lower than yours, plus the diesel fuel costs less with great fuel economy,” he responded. 

    My colleague is today a very famous ophthalmologist and department chair, and hopefully a loyal Ophthalmology Times reader.  I admired that he was smart enough to learn that this car was so well-engineered before he made his purchase decision.  And I remember wishing that American car companies could produce products with the same quality, fuel efficiency and environmental performance as foreign manufacturers.

    But the last couple of days have shown that the particular manufacturer of my friend’s car had gamed the emissions-testing system and that, perhaps, my concern about breathing his exhaust was well-founded.  Engineers at West Virginia University’s Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions (CAFEE) rented diesel vehicles made by the company and measured their tailpipe emissions on the road and compared them to the measurements made on the same cars in the lab.  The CAFEE publicly presented and published that the discrepancies were huge.

    Peter J. McDonnell, MD
    He is director of The Wilmer Eye Institute, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, and chief medical editor of ...

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