In his second book on medical ethics, philosopher Gorovitz (Syracuse Univ.) reports on his seven weeks in 1985 as "Authorized Snoop and Irritant-at-Large" at Boston's renowned Beth Israel Hospital.
As in Doctor's Dilemmas (1982), here Gorovitz tackles some tough topics: abortion, "do-not-resuscitate" orders, transplantations, and other issues circling around the question of "where to draw the line." His judicious investigations will not please hard-liners on either side. For instance, while supporting most fetal-tissue research, he opposes interspecies transplants; he restages the abortion debate on high moral ground, exploring prevailing community standards and such vexing questions as what happens when an aborted fetus survives the operation, in the process forging a middle path between abortion-on-demand and no-abortions-ever. Hospital advertisements, medical expenses, surrogate motherhood, and doctor-patient relations are among other issues explored with characteristic care. This all may sound dry, but in fact it's captivating, thanks to Gorovitz's decision to confront issues as they naturally arise in the course of day-to-day hospital operations. This grounds his difficult, sometimes abstruse themes in real-life, flesh-and-blood struggles, giving his conclusions added authority.
A small gem of medical philosophy.