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Patient, Heal Thyself: How "New Medicine" Puts the Patient in Chargeby Robert M. Veatch
Synopses & Reviews
Robert Veatch is one of the most distinguished American bioethicists, having in many ways helped to create that field. His new book is on a theme he has developed for thirty years: his view that a fundamental and radical change is sweeping through the American health care system but has so far
received relatively little attention. This change is so fundamental and far-reaching that Veatch claims we are in the early stages of a 'new medicine' that will replace what we think of as modern medical practice.
The change is in how we think about medical decision-making. Whereas modern medicine's core idea was that medical decisions should be based on the cold, hard facts of science — the province of the doctor — the 'new medicine' reflects the notion that medical decisions impose value judgments.
Since physicians can claim no expertise on making those value judgments, the pendulum has swung greatly toward the patient in evaluating alternatives and making decisions about their treatment. While the doctor's expertise is consulted, the patient is in control. In short, doctor no longer knows
best. Veatch shows how this is only true for value-loaded interventions (abortion, euthanasia, genetics) but coming to be true for almost every routine procedure in medicine — everything from setting broken arms, to choosing drugs for cholesterol or osteoporosis. Veatch uses a range of
fascinating contemporary and historical examples to reveal how values underly almost all medical procedures, and illustrate his case that this change is inevitable and a positive trend for patients.
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.
About 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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