MAKING MEDICAL CHOICES: Ethics and Medicine in a Technological Age by Jane J. Stein

MAKING MEDICAL CHOICES: Ethics and Medicine in a Technological Age

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Several recent books have explored aspects of medical technology: Lander's Defective Medicine (p. 676) cited technological gimmickry as a culprit in the current malpractice logjam, and Bok's Lying (p. 210) argued for the patient's right to know and choose. Stein's purview is broader, her stance less piqued, as she surveys the variety of ethical issues which medical technology raises: when does life begin? what is death? and (for those sustained by aggressive technological intervention) is this kind of life worth living? They're critical questions, of course, and most people now consider medical personnel unqualified to take them all on. Stein hasn't got all the answers, but in examining representative cases, she establishes the complexities and moral factors involved. For example, should all potential parents be screened for genetic diseases, or only those with family histories? Or, when resources are scarce--such as dialysis machines--who should decide how they are allocated? (Seattle's ""God Committee"" was a failure). Should experimental chemotherapy patients have any options? (Hubert Humphrey chose extensive treatment; others prefer comfort in a hospice). Should amniocentesis be allowed for sex selection? (Doctors say no; some parents say yes.) Overall, it's an undaunting approach, not too technical for the general reader, and except for a few careless spots, an able enunciation of the issues.

Pub Date: Oct. 26th, 1978
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin