Humane Medicine / Edition 1

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Overview

Despite its impressive achievements, modern medicine still seems to have failed to satisfy public expectations. Government regulation of hospitals and doctors is tightening in most Western countries. Health funding is a divisive political issue. In the United States especially, medical litigation has reached alarming levels. Is there something wrong with medical research and practice? This 1995 book examines what doctors do, and what patients expect them to do. It finds that in the face of uncertainty, expectation and reality often diverge. Starting from the communication difficulties that exist between doctors and patients, Humane Medicine explores the roles of science, ethics and the humanities in medical practice. It argues that more science cannot heal this rift, nor can better education in ethics. To foster better communication, medical teachers must ensure that value-laden issues in clinical medicine are interwoven with the necessary science. Professor Little outlines some possible ways to achieve this.

The book contains black-and-white illustrations.

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Editorial Reviews

Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: David L. Nahrwold, MD (Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine)
Description: The basis of humanism in medicine is communication between patient and physician, but the basis of improvements in longevity and health status is technology. The author, an Australian surgeon, explores this dilemma by examining how physicians make medical decisions and how they communicate with their patients. To this end, he discusses the scientific method, probability, patient autonomy, ethics, informed consent, professionalism, and medical linguistics. He uses the revealing reactions of physicians to their own illnesses to create a compelling case for change and a template for modifying the physician-patient relationship.
Purpose: The author dissects the physician-patient relationship to expose its components for scrutiny by the profession, hoping to bring about change. He encourages education, changes in medical curriculum and clinical paradigms, and a conscious change from a medical model which is biopositivist to one which is biohumane. He provides convincing evidence that the profession can remedy the communication problem between doctors and their patients. Thus, the author has achieved his objectives.
Audience: The book is of interest to all healthcare workers and those who set health policy. The audience needing it the most, young physicians and students, may find it difficult to understand, owing not to its complexity but to their lack of experience with life and patients. This compels the more senior reader to push for the changes the author recommends. The publishing industry seems loath to tell readers much about authors. One can only surmise that Little is an extraordinary physician, ethicist, and scholar. The book itself establishes his credentials as a writer.
Features: The chapters are short, so the reader can digest and contemplate !he material before tackling the next chapter on a later day. The references are current and interesting, but not exhaustive. The price makes the book a bargain. A helpful glossary of terms, mostly from the social sciences, and a model humane medicine teaching exercise add to its value.
Assessment: This is a serious examination of the fundamental problems that plague the doctor-patient relationship. Physician leaders and public policymakers will serve the citizenry and the medical profession better by studying this important work.
David L. Nahrwold
The basis of humanism in medicine is communication between patient and physician, but the basis of improvements in longevity and health status is technology. The author, an Australian surgeon, explores this dilemma by examining how physicians make medical decisions and how they communicate with their patients. To this end, he discusses the scientific method, probability, patient autonomy, ethics, informed consent, professionalism, and medical linguistics. He uses the revealing reactions of physicians to their own illnesses to create a compelling case for change and a template for modifying the physician-patient relationship. The author dissects the physician-patient relationship to expose its components for scrutiny by the profession, hoping to bring about change. He encourages education, changes in medical curriculum and clinical paradigms, and a conscious change from a medical model which is biopositivist to one which is biohumane. He provides convincing evidence that the profession can remedy the communication problem between doctors and their patients. Thus, the author has achieved his objectives. The book is of interest to all healthcare workers and those who set health policy. The audience needing it the most, young physicians and students, may find it difficult to understand, owing not to its complexity but to their lack of experience with life and patients. This compels the more senior reader to push for the changes the author recommends. The publishing industry seems loath to tell readers much about authors. One can only surmise that Little is an extraordinary physician, ethicist, and scholar. The book itself establishes his credentials as a writer. The chapters are short, sothe reader can digest and contemplate !he material before tackling the next chapter on a later day. The references are current and interesting, but not exhaustive. The price makes the book a bargain. A helpful glossary of terms, mostly from the social sciences, and a model humane medicine teaching exercise add to its value. This is a serious examination of the fundamental problems that plague the doctor-patient relationship. Physician leaders and public policymakers will serve the citizenry and the medical profession better by studying this important work.

4 Stars! from Doody
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521498630
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1995
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 207
  • Product dimensions: 5.51 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.47 (d)

Table of Contents

1. Confronting the present: confronting the future; 2. The clinical process: a Popperean analysis; 3. Science and the epistemology of clinical medicine; 4. The impact of authority and medical research; 5. Probability: master or servant; 6. Autonomy and a calculus; 7. Ethics and the definition of professionalism; 8. The bioethics committee; 9. Autonomy, logic, hermeneutics and informed consent; 10. Text, context and the medical history; 11. Towards a new medicine; 12. A summary.

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