In a recent article in the New Yorker, physician Atul Gawande detailed how badly the American health-care system deals with physician error; the system, he contended, serves neither the patient nor the physician very well. But what can be done?
The Terri Schiavo case stirred much moral controversy over what constitutes ordinary care for the dying and what respect we should show for the wishes of the dying. These are serious matters, not discussed often enough. But there are other important moral and medical issues that were widely ignored in the debate.
This is a very good book, but not because it brings good news. John H. Evans, a sociologist at the University of California, San Diego, carefully documents how religious voices have been marginalized in the public debates over the human genome project. Evans documents as well how the absence of religious voices has made the public debates less rich.
Medicine, Daniel Callahan argues, has become the sustainer of false hope in the face of death and dissolution. Callahan calls for a medicine more modest in its aspirations and more careful in its promises. Giving up the illusion that it can extend life indefinitely for a few, this new medicine would devote itself to making life better for the many.