Chapter

Time for a Change: Devising Our Medical Future

Daniel Callahan

in The Roots of Bioethics

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199931378
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199980598 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199931378.003.0014
Time for a Change: Devising Our Medical Future

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It is not just the healthcare system that needs reform, but even more fundamentally the way we think about medicine itself, the scientific and humanistic field itself that is its foundation. Most critically, it is the idea of unlimited scientific progress and technological innovation that is the central value of the modern medical enterprise, that of an unrelenting war against aging and death. There is no such thing as enough in fighting that war; it is an “endless frontier.” But the fact is, although predicted only a few decades ago, infectious disease has not been conquered, much less the chronic diseases of aging societies. We have instead, as a fruit of technological innovation, found expensive ways to keep sick people alive, not only in expensive ways, but also in ways that increase the odds of a poor death. Once that is realized, the whole enterprise of the endless pursuit of elusive cures needs to give way to a more sober assessment of what the medicine of the future will have to be. At the top of that list is to find a better balance between the search for cures and the provision of care. The former must begin to give way to the latter.

Keywords: aging; death; medical future; chronic disease; progress

Chapter.  6435 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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