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Patient, Heal Thyself: How the "New Medicine" Puts the Patient in Charge

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Overview

Robert Veatch is one of the founding fathers of contemporary bioethics. In Patient, Heal Thyself, he sheds light on a fundamental change sweeping through the American health care system, a change that puts the patient in charge of treatment to an unprecedented extent. The change is in how we think about medical decision-making. Whereas medicine's core idea was that medical decisions should be based on the hard facts of science—the province of the doctor—the "new medicine" contends that medical decisions impose value judgments. Since physicians are not trained to make value judgments, the pendulum has swung greatly toward the patient in making decisions about their treatment. Veatch shows how this is presently true only for value-loaded interventions (abortion, euthanasia, genetics) but is coming to be true for almost every routine procedure in medicine—everything from setting broken arms to choosing drugs for cholesterol. Veatch uses a range of fascinating examples to reveal how values underlie almost all medical procedures and to argue that this change is inevitable and a positive trend for patients.

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Editorial Reviews

Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Rebecca L Volpe, B.A.(Saint Louis University)
Description: This book offers a unique opportunity to read the thoughts of a founding father of bioethics on where medicine has been, where it is now, and where it must go in the future. Robert M. Veatch argues for a "new medicine," which rejects the belief that physicians can ever know what is medically best for their patients based on medical science alone because every medical choice requires nonscientific value judgments.
Purpose: His purpose is to describe the new medicine and the ethic in which it is grounded. He achieves this purpose by first laying the theoretical groundwork, and then applying the new medicine lens to a number of issues. One topic he examines is informed consent. He is critical of the current model of informed consent, arguing that "the model in which the clinician decides what he or she believes is best for the patient, pausing only to elicit the patient's concurrence (consent), will no longer be sufficient." His argument is careful and thorough, with many case studies and examples along the way.
Audience: This book is a must-read for those engaged in healthcare delivery. Healthcare consumers, students, and other lay people will also likely find these arguments interesting, timely, and compelling.
Features: Part I explores some typical cases that show how the new medicine requires thinking that is different from that of modern medicine, and presents an in-depth explanation of why the physician can no longer be presumed to know what is best for the patient. Part II introduces some new conceptions of old concepts and terms and applies the new medicine framework to an in-depth look at healthcare insurance, informed consent, hospice, and obesity. Part III looks at broader aspects of healthcare under the new medicine, including subject recruitment for research, clinical practice guidelines, and establishing medical "facts."
Assessment: The author offers engaging and thoughtful ruminations about the current medical paradigm that include interesting inquiries into historical practices and beliefs. He applies his theoretical assessment of the new medicine to concrete topics such as informed consent and healthcare insurance, offering prescriptions for how these practices should change. The book is a compelling examination of how to catch medicine up with the times, and it is not to be missed.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195313727
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 11/4/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Veatch is Professor of Medical Ethics at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Georgetown University. He received the career distinguished achievement award from Georgetown University in 2005 and has received honorary doctorates from Creighton and Union College. He is listed in Who's Who in America.

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