The Goals of Medicine: The Forgotten Issue in Health Care Reform

The Goals of Medicine: The Forgotten Issue in Health Care Reform

The Goals of Medicine: The Forgotten Issue in Health Care Reform

The Goals of Medicine: The Forgotten Issue in Health Care Reform

Synopsis

In this book, international teams of physicians, nurses, public health experts, philosophers, theologians, politicians, administrators, social workers, and lawyers articulate four basic goals of medicine and examine them in light of the cultural, political, and economic pressures under which medicine functions. Discussing prevention of disease, relief of suffering, care of the ill, and avoidance of premature death, contributors clearly demonstrate the importance of clarifying the purposes of medicine before attempting to change economic and organizational systems.

Excerpt

In 1993, the Hastings Center initiated a project on the Goals of Medicine. It was conceived out of a sense of frustration and perplexity. Throughout the world, but especially in the United States during that time, vast national debates had erupted over needed reforms in the health care system. The Clinton Administration was pushing for universal health care while other bills before Congress pursued a variety of proposals on that general theme.

Both the Congress and the public, however, were dominated by matters of economics, organization, politics, and efficiency. The debate was essentially a technical discussion, one touching here and there on questions of equity and medical needs, but never heavily focused on those problems. Lacking in a more fundamental way was any sustained substantive analysis of the ends and goals of medicine. It was as if everyone had agreed on what those goals are or should be, and thus there was nothing to talk about; or that the subject was avoided altogether to sidestep even worse controversy. But the pattern displayed in the American health care debate, we discovered, was common throughout the world: basic issues of purposes and values tend to be crowded out by the technical questions pertinent to the financing and organizing of health care systems. It was a frustrating situation because the discussions were so one-sided, and perplexing because it was hard to understand how such basic matters as goals and purposes could be so blithely ignored.

This gap between the substantive and technical questions needed closing, and the purpose of the Goals of Medicine project was to do just that. What, we asked, are or should be, the goals of medicine and what is the implication of our thinking about goals for the delivery of health care, the research agenda, and the education of medical students and other health care personnel? Our aim was to ask the most basic questions possible about medicine and its aims. Toward that end small working groups were assembled in fourteen countries, and each was charged with the task of grappling with those basic questions. Each year the leaders of the country groups assembled in Prague (three times . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.