Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Review of "The Good Doctor - A Father, A Son, and the Evolution of Medical Ethics" by Barron H. Lerner, M.D., Ph.D.

This brilliant little memoir has all of the inter-generational intrigue of Turgenev's "Father's and Sons."  Dr. Barron H. Lerner, M.D., Ph.D. addresses the many ways in which the practice of medicine has changed between the time his father, Dr. Phillip Lerner, went to medical school in the 1950s and the current climate in which Barron practices as an internist and a medical historian.

What I love most about this book, "The Good Doctor," is the author's transparency and honesty about his own shifting views of his father and his father's ethics.  Often, Dr. Lerner the Younger would read his father's copious journals and make black and white judgments and pronouncements about his father's outdated and paternalistic approach to treating patients.  And then he would find himself in parallel situations in his own practice and would re-think his position, understanding at a deep level that there are many shades of gray when it comes to treating family members and making end of life decisions.

This book will be of interest to a broad audience - those who are interested in medical ethics, physicians and patients who want to be aware of subterranean currents in the doctor-patient relationship.  This very well written book makes a major contribution to opening dialogue in the area of medical ethics.  I look forward to discussing it with a number of my friends who are young physicians and medical students.



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