The Future of Medicine: When Will Quality and Safety Become Job Number One?

Let’s face it, providing medical care in an era of advanced technology is both a prohibitively expensive as well as an error-prone proposition. For example, the Leapfrog Group, comprised of 150 public and private organizations organized from the Business Roundtable, an association of Fortune 500 companies, has defined some statistics directly related to the cost and safety of medical care.[1] The benefit packages of these organizations include providing healthcare services to 34 million Americans at a cost of $62 billion dollars a year. Since the Leapfrog members pay that bill, they want to have some say in what their constituencies receive for the considerable monies spent. The Leapfrog group is not alone in this regard. They have been joined by a host of significant others including the Institute of Medicine, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), the Center for Medicare Services, and another consortium called Bridges to Excellence, to name a few from a rapidly growing number. Lest one think that this is solely a business venture, the concern is not just dollars and cents. Did you know that if the airline industry committed as many errors as healthcare does, the equivalence in lives lost would equal a passenger jet crashing every one to two days? Contemporary medicine is in a fine mess. How should it go about fixing these potentially fatal problems?

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Medicine's Intrinsic Good (Podcast)

What is good medicine? Who counts as a good doctor? These are very large questions that cannot be fully addressed here. I want to focus on a basic aspect of these two questions and on the ethical idea of "the good." The term "good medicine," as I have just used it, is not intended to be contrasted with "bad medicine." Rather it is meant to bring to the fore that medicine is something good in itself, a worthwhile and honorable human activity, a "profession" with a specific object of activity, a human good, to which so many men and women devote their lives; an endeavor full of value and capable of fulfilling a person's life with interest, effort and achievement.

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Cost-Benefit Ethics: The Case of Tirhas Habtegiris


Tirhas Habtegiris was dying of cancer. The 27 year-old legal immigrant was being kept alive on a ventilator at the Baylor Regional Medical Center in Plano, TX. Tirhas was desperately hoping to hang on until her mother could arrive from East Africa, but a joyful reunion and sad goodbye never took place.

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