Literature and Ethical Medicine: Five Cases From Common Practice
Clark, Mary Williams
Nelson, Robert M.
Journal of Medicine and Philosophy. 1996 Jun; 21(3): 243-265.
This essay is composed of five stories written by practicing physicians about their patients. Each clinical story describes a challenging ethical condition-potential abuse of medical power, gravely ill and probably over-treated newborns, iatrogenic narcotic addiction, deceived dying people. Rather than singling out one ethical conflict to resolve or adjudicate, the authors attempt, through literary methods, to grasp the singular experience of their patients and to act according to the deep structures of their patient's lives. Examining these five stories with simple literary tools -- attention to narrative frames, time, plot, and desire -- reveals the mechanisms through which acts of writing and reading contribute to clinical clarity and ethical action.
Addiction; Adults; Bioethical Issues; Biomedical Technologies; Case Studies; Chronically Ill; Communication; Congenital Disorders; Counseling; Deception; Decision Making; Disclosure; Drug Abuse; Drugs; Emotions; Empathy; Ethics; Family Relationship; Friends; Health; Health Care; Infants; Interdisciplinary Communication; Life; Literature; Medical Ethics; Medicine; Methods; Narrative Ethics; Newborns; Pain; Patient Care; Patients; Pediatrics; Physician Patient Relationship; Physician's Role; Physicians; Primary Health Care; Professional Family Relationship; Professional Patient Relationship; Prognosis; Psychiatry; Psychoactive Drugs; Psychotherapy; Power; Social Interaction; Terminally Ill; Trust; Truth Disclosure; Withholding Treatment;
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