Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

What Should HCR Publish?

Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

What Should HCR Publish?

Article excerpt

A few weeks ago, on a beautiful Saturday morning, I found myself lying on a bed in an emergency room with tenderness in my stomach that I thought might indicate appendicitis. The physician who saw me was efficient and friendly and, as near as I am able to tell, gave me good care. When I described my symptoms, however, something I said caused him to smirk a little and remark disapprovingly, "Aha. You've been on the Internet, haven't you?" I had, and now I was embarrassed. "Oh, well, yeah, a little bit."

In retrospect, I thought, "Of course I was on the Internet. What sane, educated person with limited medical knowledge but easy access to the Internet would not go there to check out a worrisome symptom?" I was put in mind of a recent article in the Report about how the widespread availability of medical information (some of it garbage, of course) is changing or should change the doctor-patient encounter.

As it turns out, that article exemplifies a trend. I have just learned that we published several pieces this year about the interpersonal dynamics of the doctor-patient encounter. I might have been expected to know this already, but in fact, I know it because I have just spent some hours drawing up the Report's annual index--a tedious task that nonetheless often generates some spark of insight. It illuminates how editorial content shifts from year to year.

In this past year, the Report touched on genetics, cloning, and enhancement only indirectly, through book reviews or essays on the general topic of regulations for biotechnologies. We published several pieces on how doctors deal with difficult patients, and an assortment of pieces on how doctors should talk to surrogate decision-makers about "futile" care. …

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