In this eye-opening look at the doctor-patient decision-making process, physician and law professor Jay Katz examines the time-honored belief in the virtue of silent care and patient compliance. Historically, the doctor-patient relationship has been based on a one-way trust -- despite recent judicial attempts to give patients a greater voice through the doctrine of informed consent. Katz criticizes doctors for encouraging patients to relinquish their autonomy, and demonstrates the detrimental effect their silence has on good patient care. Seeing a growing (...) need in this age of medical science and sophisticated technology for more honest and complete communication between physician and patients, he advocates a new, informed dialogue that respects the rights and needs of both sides. In a new foreword to this edition of The Silent World of Doctor and Patient , Alexander Morgan Capron outlines the changes in medical ethics practice that have occurred since the book was first published in 1984, paying particular attention to the hotly debated issues of physician-assisted suicide and informed consent in managed care. (shrink)
The doctrine of informed consent, borrowed from the law of torts, cannot be readily transplanted into therapeutic settings. The broader, as yet unrealized, idea of informed consent, which suggests that parties must make decisions jointly, should guide interactions between physicians and patients or investigators and subjects.
People do not choose to suffer from catastrophic illnesses, but considerable human choice is involved in the ways in which the participants in the process treat and conduct research on these diseases. Catastrophic Diseases draws a powerful and humane portrait of the patients who suffer from these illnesses as well as of the physician-investigators who treat them, and describes the major pressures, conflicts, and decisions which confront all of them. By integrating a discussion of "facts" and "values," the authors highlight (...) the forces which affect new developments in medicine—such as kidney and heart transplants—and the controversial issues they generate. Katz and Capron explore these issues through the use of dual conceptual perspectives. Their study first examines and evaluates the authority which should be vested in each of the chief participants in the catastrophic disease process—the physician-investigator, the patient-subject and his relatives, the professionals, and the state. Challenging questions are raised concerning medical education, informed consent, and professional responsibility. The authors next explore how the roles and capacities of the participants vary not only according to the basic issues they face but also according to the point in decision-making at which these issues arise. The process of investigating and treating catastrophic diseases, the authors believe, can thus usefully be divided into three decision-making stages—the formulation of policy, the administration of research and therapy, and the review of the decisions and their consequences. In conclusion, Katz and Capron demonstrate the need for a variety of individuals and groups with diverse values to be involved in decision-making in a manner which will not unnecessarily impede the scientific investigation of these diseases. (shrink)