Reviewer: Tyler S Gibb, JD, PhD (c)(UCLA Health Ethics Center)
Description: This is the third edition of a unique hybrid between a textbook and a handbook that provides a background in ethics concepts and discussions of common ethical dilemmas and conflicts in the healthcare setting for healthcare administrators and providers.
Purpose: The purpose is to provide readers with a clear understanding of both laws and ethics as they apply in the healthcare setting. The book is intended to be both a source of information, like a standard textbook, as well as to be studied and referenced, like a handbook. Helpfully, by including real-world examples in this edition, the author seeks to move readers out of the classroom and into the work environment.
Audience: The author gears the book for healthcare professionals, providers, and administrators. Because the author is neither a physician nor an attorney, two advisors are listed as consultants, adding a level of authority to the book's complex legal and medical discussions.
Features: The book begins with an overview of basic concepts in moral philosophy, and then covers specific issues such as advanced directives and futility, U.S. law generally, health law in particular, and legal aspects of ethics committees, organizations, and other regulatory aspects of the healthcare industry. In its attempt to straddle the line between specificity and generality, the book falls a bit short of both. For example, more than two pages are devoted to respondeat superior, a technical legal doctrine, but there is no mention of the Terri Schiavo case.
Assessment: In providing examples and background for many of the common ethical and legal dilemmas that arise in U.S. healthcare, this book is very useful for healthcare practitioners and administrators. However, it seems to attempt too much, and students of ethics or health law may find it overly simplistic or incomplete important cases are overlooked, key ethical concepts are glossed over or overly simplified, and specific, narrow topics receive a disproportionate amount of real estate.