Medical professionals are expected to act in the interest of patients, the public, and the pursuit of medical knowledge. Their disinterested stance gives them credibility and authority. But what happens when doctors’ supposed impartiality comes under fire? In Medicine and Morality, Helen Kang examines three moments in the history of the medical profession in Canada, spanning more than 150 years, when doctors’ moral and scientific authority was questioned. She shows that, in these moments of crisis, the profession was compelled to re-examine its priorities, strategize in order to regain credibility, and redefine what it means to be a good doctor.
Medicine and Morality reveals that professional medicine defines integrity, objectivity, accountability, neutrality, and other ideals according to its social, political, historical, and economic struggles with the state, the media, and even the public. In other words, moral and scientific standards in medicine are determined in direct relation to, not in spite of, conflict of interest.
1 Toward a Theory of Medical Disinterestedness
2 A Brotherhood of Scientific Gentlemen
3 Building Bridges, Making Amends
4 The Paradox of Medical Publishing
Notes; Selected Bibliography; Index
Helen Kang is a health care consultant and writer, specializing in research analysis and knowledge synthesis. She has published on a wide range of topics in health, including patient-provider relationships, clinical uncertainty, interprofessional care, and continuing medical education. She works with health care organizations to develop new systems, policies, and practice standards. She received her doctorate in sociology from Simon Fraser University and is a recipient of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Fellowship.
Kang’s analysis illuminates our current anxiety about the proper place of health care in public life.
~Viviane Fairbank, Literary Review of Canada