False Hopes: Why America's Quest for Perfect Health Is a Recipe for Failure

False Hopes: Why America's Quest for Perfect Health Is a Recipe for Failure

by Daniel Callahan
     
 

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Sure to spark heated debate, this ground-breaking book by one of the nation's leading experts on medical ethics traces the root cause of America's healthcare crisis not to inefficient organization or waste, but rather to society's and the medical community's relentless quest for perfection. Today's medicine distorts a reasonable approach to medical goals and in the

Overview

Sure to spark heated debate, this ground-breaking book by one of the nation's leading experts on medical ethics traces the root cause of America's healthcare crisis not to inefficient organization or waste, but rather to society's and the medical community's relentless quest for perfection. Today's medicine distorts a reasonable approach to medical goals and in the process makes health delivery increasingly unaffordable. 336 pp. 20,000 print.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Callahan (What Kind of Life: The Limits of Medical Progress) here advocates a "sustainable, steady-state medicine" that stops consuming ever-more resources yet provides affordable health care "equitably accessible to all." High-tech medicine's pursuit of the eradication of all diseases and unlimited progress are no longer viable, he contends in his farsighted, visionary manifesto. Callahan examines the obstaclessocial, financial, politicalfacing his modest agenda for medicine, but he nevertheless feels it can be accomplished through a combination of improved public health programs, emphasis on greater personal responsibility to alleviate such conditions as obesity and heart disease and a drastic reallocation of resources away from acute care toward massive preventive and educational efforts. While much of his thoroughgoing analysis seems directed primarily to medical professionals and policymakers, his clearly written prescription will open a dialogue among health-care critics and reformers, establishment defenders, holistic healers and the public. (Apr.)
Library Journal
With millions of dollars going into continuous research, the medical establishment has vested interests in promoting the idea that all diseases can be overcome and unlimited progress is possible. Not so, Callahan declares. Instead, he argues for a "sustainable" healthcare policy to meet basic needs and contain costs. (LJ 4/1/98)
Roy Porter
"False Hopes" offers a voice of sanity....Callahan's forte lies in soberly addressing how much health we can reasonably expect to buy. Here he squarely faces a fact of life pointed out years ago by the English politician Enoch Powell: "There is virtually no limit to the amount of health care an individual is capable of absorbing." -- Roy Porter, New York Times Book Review
Kirkus Reviews
Medical ethicist Callahan (The Troubled Dream of Life, 1993, etc.) proposes a new way of looking at the nature of medicine that sharply challenges traditional beliefs in progress and perfectibility. At the Hastings Center in 1992 the author initiated a four-year project, þThe Goals of Medicine: Setting New Priorities,þ in which research groups from 14 countries addressed questions about the future of medicine. This book is a parallel project. If Callahan had a bumper sticker, its message might well be "Enough Already," but slogans aren't his weapons of choice. His forte is critical analysis, which he applies rigorously to the values of modern medicine. In his view, faith in limitless progress and the drive to dominate nature (through expensive high-tech procedures and the attempt to conquer death), and expansion of its domain into social problems such as teenage pregnancy and drug abuse make modern medicine neither socially equitable nor economically sustainable. Callahan proceeds to define a sustainable and equitable medicine and its implications for health policy: The focus must shift from individual health improvement to population health improvement through þa comprehensive system of primary care medicineþ oriented to health promotion and disease prevention. Further, the drive toward total risk reduction and medical perfectionism must be curbed. And finally, efforts to overcome death must be replaced by the goal of improving the quality of life within a limited life cycle, i.e., the average life span now attained in developed countries. Not only must research rein in its goals and promises of ever-improving life, but patients must lower their demandsand expectations. In brief, sustainable and equitable medicine means decent care for all, not state-of-the-art care for the few. Callahan is a powerful presenter of ideas, anticipating challenges and providing persuasive arguments, and his controversial thoughts on the future of medicine are sure to stimulate discussion among health-care policymakers.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780684811093
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
04/10/1998
Pages:
336
Product dimensions:
5.77(w) x 8.75(h) x 1.05(d)

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Molly Myerowitz Levine
Berlinerblau's ability to integrate far-reaching serious scholarly and ethical issues within the substantive content of the Black Athena debate is impressive.

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