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From The CriticsReviewer: Tom Koch, BA, MA (The Hospital for Sick Children)
Description: Each of this book's chapters offers the perspective of its contributor on one or more aspects of the intersection between computer systems, medicine, and bioethics.
Purpose: It offers an overview of some of the practical and ethical issues raised by the increasing use of computer-based information and knowledge systems at every level of medicine and medical research. Although there is overlap among several of the articles, each is authored by a scholar recognized in his or her area.
Audience: The intended audience includes generalists and experts in the area of medical informatics, medical practitioners, researchers using computerized systems for data collection and patient records, as well as bioethicists concerned with the effect of computers on issues of privacy, medical practice, and patient autonomy.
Features: Articles are accessible to all readers, even those with little background in computer systems or computerized medical systems. Contributors cover a range of topics, ranging from issues of privacy and equity to the potential effect of advancing systems on patient-physician relations and physician skills.
Assessment: This collection promises, and delivers, a much needed introduction to issues arising from the use of computers in various areas of medicine and medical research. Its strength is in its diversity in the issues it raises, rather than an attempt at their resolution. Its most serious deficit is the lack of a chapter on the use of online medical data by patients or their surrogates, and the effect of that use on medicine. Also lacking is a concluding chapter focusing the contributors' disparate concerns into a coherent ethical or conceptual framework. Useful and welcome for what it presents, it is a starting point and not a definitive statement in this evolving, interdisciplinary arena.