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From The CriticsReviewer: 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.