Streams

Fathers and Sons and Medical Ethics

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A look at how different generations approach tough medical decisions. Barron Lerner, bioethicist, historian of medicine and internist at New York University’s Langone School of Medicine and the author of The Good Doctor: A Father, a Son, and the Evolution of Medical Ethics (Beacon Press, 2014), talks about how he and his father, both physicians, approach end-of-life issues with their patients.

Guests:

Barron Lerner

Comments [15]

Richard Sloat

Heard Dr. Learner story of his father insisting that a terminally ill woman who had suffered painfully over an extended period not be given CPR to revive her when she died. I totally agree with his father's compassionate difficult decision. I had a terminally ill friend and though he did not want to go into intensive care was put into a medically induced comma and put into intensive care against his will. This was about money and malpractice not compassion or ethics. About two weeks later they found a relative in the Midwest who let him finally die.

May. 27 2014 05:11 PM
Richard Sloat

Heard Dr. Learner story of his father insisting that a terminally ill woman who had suffered painfully over an extended period not be given CPR to revive her when she died. I totally agree with his father's compassionate difficult decision. I had a terminally ill friend and though he did not want to go into intensive care was put into a medically induced comma and put into intensive care against his will. This was about money and malpractice not compassion or ethics. About two weeks later they found a relative in the Midwest who let him finally die.

May. 27 2014 05:09 PM
Jane from NJ

Umm this is 2014. I understand the to tile of the book is about men, but a discussion should be about women also.

May. 27 2014 01:29 PM

I was very privileged to have had Dr. Lerner as my primary care physician for years before NYU took him away from NY Presbyterian, and in addition to having such confidence in his medical judgement, I also enjoyed talking to him about his books and articles. It was great to hear his voice again in yet another of his many interviews on WNYC. I was deeply saddened with the news of his nephew's death and I've always wondered why a driver can kill someone with impunity w/o a second offense such as DUI.

May. 27 2014 12:09 PM
Alan from Queens

Doctors are car mechanics that happen to work on the human body. By making organic chemistry, calculus and 24 hr shifts requirements to be a doctor, the medical profession constrains the number of otherwise caring & capable people from becoming doctors so that wages for doctoring can be kept artificially high. One consequence of this system of exhalted status for the profession is enormously high cost for access to medical technology services by every human who becomes ill, and therefore the need for a complex & costly system for juggling how society will manage to pay for these essential services. The explosion of lifestyle-related illnesses that "modernity" has fueled in the general population, including childhood diabetes, illustrates clearly that it is the total System of modern life that contributes to the destruction of human health, the global environment and a truly human community. Just as Facebook is a nerd's idea of a social life, and internet porn a nerd's idea of a sex life, a brusque & aloof doctor holding an iPad instead of your human life in his/her hands is a nerd's idea of doctoring. Since modernity is expanding throughout the world, and its impact on the Global Ecosystem is exponentially destructive, the adjustments necessary to perpetuate The System will become increasingly onerous and, in the long run, increasingly futile. Conclusion: if we humans don't evolve to a higher level of conscious living soon, we will find ourselves trying to live a human life in a nerd's idea of a Techno Utopia. When you are finally hit from behind by an obese teenager who is texting while driving and end up in a for profit hospital where your medical team is busy negotiating your care with your insurance company instead of comforting you, you will moan in pain and curse The System that has created all these experiences for you as unintended consequences of "business as usual". Welcome to the 21st century - have a nice day.

May. 27 2014 12:00 PM
Alan from Queens

Doctors are car mechanics that happen to work on the human body. By making organic chemistry, calculus and 24 hr shifts requirements to be a doctor, the medical profession constrains the number of otherwise caring & capable people from becoming doctors so that wages for doctoring can be kept artificially high. One consequence of this system of exhalted status for the profession is enormously high cost for access to medical technology services by every human who becomes ill, and therefore the need for a complex & costly system for juggling how society will manage to pay for these essential services. The explosion of lifestyle-related illnesses that "modernity" has fueled in the general population, including childhood diabetes, illustrates clearly that it is the total System of modern life that contributes to the destruction of human health, the global environment and a truly human community. Just as Facebook is a nerd's idea of a social life, and internet porn a nerd's idea of a sex life, a brusque & aloof doctor holding an iPad instead of your human life in his/her hands is a nerd's idea of doctoring. Since modernity is expanding throughout the world, and its impact on the Global Ecosystem is exponentially destructive, the adjustments necessary to perpetuate The System will become increasingly onerous and, in the long run, increasingly futile. Conclusion: if we humans don't evolve to a higher level of conscious living soon, we will find ourselves trying to live a human life in a nerd's idea of a Techno Utopia. When you are finally hit from behind by an obese teenager who is texting while driving and end up in a for profit hospital where your medical team is busy negotiating your care with your insurance company instead of comforting you, you will moan in pain and curse The System that has created all these experiences for you as unintended consequences of "business as usual". Welcome to the 21st century - have a nice day.

May. 27 2014 12:00 PM
Alan from Queens

Doctors are car mechanics that happen to work on the human body. By making organic chemistry, calculus and 24 hr shifts requirements to be a doctor, the medical profession constrains the number of otherwise caring & capable people from becoming doctors so that wages for doctoring can be kept artificially high. One consequence of this system of exhalted status for the profession is enormously high cost for access to medical technology services by every human who becomes ill, and therefore the need for a complex & costly system for juggling how society will manage to pay for these essential services. The explosion of lifestyle-related illnesses that "modernity" has fueled in the general population, including childhood diabetes, illustrates clearly that it is the total System of modern life that contributes to the destruction of human health, the global environment and a truly human community. Just as Facebook is a nerd's idea of a social life, and internet porn a nerd's idea of a sex life, a brusque & aloof doctor holding an iPad instead of your human life in his/her hands is a nerd's idea of doctoring. Since modernity is expanding throughout the world, and its impact on the Global Ecosystem is exponentially destructive, the adjustments necessary to perpetuate The System will become increasingly onerous and, in the long run, increasingly futile. Conclusion: if we humans don't evolve to a higher level of conscious living soon, we will find ourselves trying to live a human life in a nerd's idea of a Techno Utopia. When you are finally hit from behind by an obese teenager who is texting while driving and end up in a for profit hospital where your medical team is busy negotiating your care with your insurance company instead of comforting you, you will moan in pain and curse The System that has created all these experiences for you as unintended consequences of "business as usual". Welcome to the 21st century - have a nice day.

May. 27 2014 11:59 AM
Alan from Queens

Doctors are car mechanics that happen to work on the human body. By making organic chemistry, calculus and 24 hr shifts requirements to be a doctor, the medical profession constrains the number of otherwise caring & capable people from becoming doctors so that wages for doctoring can be kept artificially high. One consequence of this system of exhalted status for the profession is enormously high cost for access to medical technology services by every human who becomes ill, and therefore the need for a complex & costly system for juggling how society will manage to pay for these essential services. The explosion of lifestyle-related illnesses that "modernity" has fueled in the general population, including childhood diabetes, illustrates clearly that it is the total System of modern life that contributes to the destruction of human health, the global environment and a truly human community. Just as Facebook is a nerd's idea of a social life, and internet porn a nerd's idea of a sex life, a brusque & aloof doctor holding an iPad instead of your human life in his/her hands is a nerd's idea of doctoring. Since modernity is expanding throughout the world, and its impact on the Global Ecosystem is exponentially destructive, the adjustments necessary to perpetuate The System will become increasingly onerous and, in the long run, increasingly futile. Conclusion: if we humans don't evolve to a higher level of conscious living soon, we will find ourselves trying to live a human life in a nerd's idea of a Techno Utopia. When you are finally hit from behind by an obese teenager who is texting while driving and end up in a for profit hospital where your medical team is busy negotiating your care with your insurance company instead of comforting you, you will moan in pain and curse The System that has created all these experiences for you as unintended consequences of "business as usual". Welcome to the 21st century - have a nice day.

May. 27 2014 11:59 AM
Kathleen Hoekstra from putna valley, ny

Even Brian's comment about concierge medicine being only for wealthy people is miseading. Concierge retainer fees which make it possible for doctors to deliver cutting edge medicine in an old fashioned way average about $2000 a year. True, not everyone can afford this, but enough can so that these practices now number 5000 nationwide. Wealthy is a relative term, often used perjoratively. However, the average concierge patient is in the middle class, and who places a higher value on healthcare than on other luxuries. So, it is definitely not simply a perk for the super wealthy. It's also interesting to note that concierge physicians work the same number of hours as doctors who see 10 times the number of patients, and they earn about the same income. As Dr. Lerner pointed out, it's the number of patients doctors have to now see that is a major obstacle to healthcare delivery.

May. 27 2014 11:56 AM
Amy from Manhattan

The caller who commented on "concierge" medical care thinks people who have the option to pass up "an extra cruise" to pay out of pocket aren't very wealthy???

May. 27 2014 11:20 AM

My deepest sympathies to Dr. Lerner's family.

May. 27 2014 11:18 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Oh, rich people can BUY more face-time with doctors. DUH! What a shocker!

May. 27 2014 11:18 AM

It's shocking how many people, including tons of celebs if you care, that driving accidents have killed.

It's a huge issue, and we hear so little about it. Thanks for the Dr.'s drunk driving book!

I'm seeing more and more people veering out of their lanes these days.

And, unlike in the 50s, there is no public opprobrium applied to RUBBERNECKERS, who delay and endanger all of us. And could well have been the cause of the doctor's relative's death, imo.

May. 27 2014 11:17 AM
Paul from White Plains

Coincidentally, we just saw a revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Allegro" this past weekend. It is about a father and son who are doctors, and at its heart concerns medical ethics, the attraction of high-income medicine and celebrity patients, as opposed to the ideal of small-town medicine.

May. 27 2014 11:14 AM
John A

Everyday pricing, comparable to a decent engineer or lawyer, versus what we have, which can reach $100 per minute all too frequently.

May. 27 2014 11:03 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.