Event Date: 26 September 2015
Barts Pathology Museum
Robin Brook Centre
London EC1A 7BE
“DYING WELL”: ENACTING MEDICAL ETHICS
A cross-disciplinary Symposium at Barts Pathology Museum
Dr Samir Guglani (Consultant Oncologist and Director of Medicine Unboxed) – Human Voices:
The practice of medicine requires technical skill and ethical judgment. But are high standards of academic knowledge and moral reasoning enough to foster good medicine? Do they really motivate health professionals every day to care well for their patients?
We have to wonder how, in developed countries in the twenty-first century, there are so many failures of care, and failures to care. Might it be that what is pivotal to good medicine is an authentic recognition of patients as fellow human beings? A recognition of shared humanity may also have the potential to remind us of our finitude as embodied persons – drawing us to debates around therapeutic limits, end-of-life care, patient choice, the problems of over-diagnosis and over-treatment, and the hubris of medicine. Perhaps such hubris is epitomized in the use of the word ‘patient’, which can lessen another’s personhood; or perhaps the relegation of this word, and its etymology of ‘suffering’, reflects a misplaced consumerism, where important human truths are sterilized into branded sentiment. Further, in recognizing and acting on our shared humanity health professionals and the public are brought to a number of questions, around which persons we owe duties to, social justice and how limited resources ought to be fairly distributed for the wellbeing of all; also to the troubled humanity of health professionals and questions of their fears, beliefs, biases and burnout. Viewed like this, ‘good medicine’ looks less readily defined by simple technical and moral know-how and perhaps is informed not only by traditional scientific and ethical paradigms, but also by the arts and the humanities.