Do We Still Need Doctors? / Edition 1

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Written with poignancy and compassion, Do We Still Need Doctors? is a personal account from the front lines of the moral and political battles that are reshaping America's health care system.

"...a pediatrician questions if the vast changes in the health care system, technologies, and medical education will allow doctors to continue fulfilling their roles and responsibilities."

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
For better or worse, argues Lantos, society "has constructed a legal and ethical framework around the medical care system that reinforces the social values we hold dear." A pediatrician, teacher, and bioethicist at the University of Chicago, Lantos reveals how we have created "moral gridlock" in which the private lives of patients are often controlled by professionals and other government strangers in the full public view given by the media and the law. As a result, medicine itself has, ironically, come to be perceived as the problem in need of a solution. In today's medicine, the traditional emotional and spiritual qualities of the doctor-patient relationship are often overridden by larger social and economic issues to the extent that one can actually ask whether the doctor is still necessary. With intelligence and balance, Lantos guides the reader through the ethical morass of what has become a public debate. Highly recommended for academic and larger public libraries.James Swanton, Harlem Hosp. Lib., New York
Lantos, a pediatrician and bioethicist at the University of Chicago, gives a personal account from the frontlines of the moral and political battles reshaping the country's health care system. He intersperses vignettes of young patients suffering from chronic illnesses with his own dilemmas of truth telling and navigating the HMO bureaucracy, and discusses the identity crisis of medical education. He argues that managed care continues a trend begun and sustained by doctors over the past 50 years, and stresses that doctors and patients need to re-imagine what healing can be. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Kirkus Reviews
The title's challenging question is only one of the many posed in this wide-ranging examination of doctors and the practice of medicine.

Lantos, a physician who describes himself as a professional moralist, is asking how recent developments in the delivery of health care change "what we should think about the proper response to illness and suffering, how we should train the people whom we empower to respond, and how we should shape the institutions that educate those people and deliver those services." To explore these questions, Lantos, a bioethicist at the University of Chicago and pediatrician in a hospital for chronically ill children, tells troubling stories from his own experiences. The role of doctors, says Lantos, has always been partly interventionist (diagnosing and treating) and partly interpretive (understanding and explaining the meaning of illness). The interventionist model, he asserts, has won out. The essence of modern medical practice is alienation, disengagement, and "a weird equanimity in the face of horrific disease." Yet while we insist on the physician as scientist, we still yearn in our hearts for the old humanistic model of physician as shaman/healer. Lantos questions whether a single profession can contain these contradictory notions. We may, he says, be witnessing the creation of a new profession "driven by science, technology, reductionist ethics, and entitlement economics." He is not optimistic about the future of medicine, questioning whether some core of morality or belief will persist underneath the transformations that are taking place. Fiction provides some of the most imaginative responses to the question of what we want doctors to be and do, says Lantos, and he concludes by turning to authors Robertson Davies and Walker Percy, among others, for visions of the challenges facing doctors.

A disturbing, often painful examination of a profession in transition.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415918527
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 4/28/1997
  • Series: Reflective Bioethics Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

1 Introduction 1
2 Postwar Optimism 9
3 Priscilla's Story 32
4 Why Should We Care about Other People's Children? 49
5 Medical Education and Medical Morality 65
6 Truths, Stories, Fictions, and Lies 82
7 On Mistakes and Truth Telling 116
8 The Perils of Progress 133
9 Do We Still Need Doctors? 157
Notes 199
Index 207
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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2000


    My memories of bioethics in college are not particularly fond as taught by the rigid nonclinician in the small midwestern university I attended. This book, while not comprehensive, elegantly articulates the complexities of moral issues that patients, doctors, health professionals and society confronts. College bioethics = waste of time and tuition; 'Do We Still Need Doctors' = must read for any health care professional.

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