Ethics Talk Podcasts
Ethics Talk podcasts explore the ethical and professionalism challenges that medical students and physicians confront in their education and daily practice.
In February 2012 The New York Times featured an article on a 60-person chain of kidney transplants that resulted in 30 individuals receiving donated kidneys. The article highlighted the growing demand for donated kidneys and the unique challenges of kidney transplantation. This month, Virtual Mentor's theme issue editor for March 2012, Alon Neidich, interviewed Dr. Al Roth about the growing importance of paired kidney exchanges for incompatible patient-donor pairs. Dr. Roth is the George Gund Professor of Economics and Business Administration in Department of Economics at Harvard University, and in the Harvard Business School, and is one of the founders and designers of the New England Program for Kidney Exchange.
Often, when we visit our doctor, we simply want to know, "What is it? What is the name of the ailment that is causing me to feel this way? Do my symptoms add up to something that can be recognized with a single label? And what will that label mean?" Very often, the diagnosis we get affects the course of our lives. This month, Virtual Mentor spoke with Dr. Catherine Belling, associate professor of medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, about the power of diagnosis and how it can change the way we view ourselves, others, and the world around us.
November 2011 "Stabilizing Medicare Payments to Physicians: An Interview with AMA President Dr. Peter W. Carmel"
Since the 2008 election, health care reform has been one of the key issues dominating political and civil discourse throughout the country. Recently the debates around health reform have only intensified as looming cuts threaten to reduce physician Medicare by nearly 30%. This month, Virtual Mentor spoke with Dr. Peter W. Carmel, President of the American Medical Association (AMA), to discuss health reform and, specifically, why the AMA supports the full repeal of the formula used to calculate Medicare payments to physicians.
We hear a lot about health care reform from the perspective of physicians who are already members of the medical establishment—whether they are for health care reform, or against it. But what about new and future doctors who will enter medicine during this dynamic period of change and restructuring? This month Virtual Mentor spoke with Dr. Alex Ding, a resident physician in the department of radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital, and Mr. Jordan VanLare, a fourth-year medical student at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, about their impressions of health reform and how it will impact the medical practice environment they will soon enter.
Some say little has improved in the 12 years since the Institute of Medicine drew the nation’s attention to the unacceptable number of “adverse unexpected events”—read “errors”—in U.S. hospitals.Virtual Mentor spoke with Dr. David Classen, associate professor of medicine at the University of Utah, about the current state of patient safety in the United States. Dr Classen discussed the goals and challenges of improving patient safety in inpatient and ambulatory settings and how health care reform will impact future efforts to improve patient safety.
One initiative in the system wide, concerted effort to bring medical errors under control has been the development of patient safety training and educational programs for nurses, physicians, and other health professionals. Virtual Mentor spoke with Patricia Sokol, RN, JD, senior policy analyst at the American Medical Association, about the growing number of institutions that offer graduate training for health professionals in patient safety science and how these programs are critical to establishing a safer overall health care system. For additional information about the programs discussed in this podcast, please visit:
In advance directives, we tell our physicians and surrogate decision makers what types of care we want—and don't want—when we can no longer make decisions for ourselves. But research consistently shows a gap between patients' preferences for end-of-life care and what their surrogate decision makers think those patients want. Neuroscience and, more specifically, a specific form brain imaging—fMRI—may be able to help close that gap. By imaging a person's brain while he or she is making a decision, researchers can tell which part of the brain is being brought to the specific decision-making task. Such findings have shown that the part of the brain that becomes active when a research subject is making decisions based on purely personal preference is different from the part that becomes active when the subject is making socially or morally guided decisions. Instructing a surrogate to make one's end-of-life decisions should be a social, morally guided decision, not a purely personal one. So perhaps posing end-of-life care questions in a social, moral frame rather than a purely personal frame will elicit care decisions from patients that align more closely with decisions their surrogates would make.
The Military Personnel Eligibility Act of 1993, commonly known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” allowed gays to serve in the U.S. military as long as they did not make their sexual orientation known. The act has long been a hot-button issue for many politicians, gay rights activists, conservative pundits, and members of the armed forces. The debate has become more heated in the last year as President Obama and Democratic Party leaders made clear they wanted Congress to repeal the act. In May 2010, the House of Representatives and the Senate's Armed Services Committee voted to repeal the measure, contingent upon a Department of Defense survey of military personnel about the anticipated effects of the repeal. Virtual Mentor spoke with Dr. Saul Levin, vice president of science, medicine, and public health at the American Medical Association about the effect of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell on physicians and why the AMA supports of repeal of the controversial Act.
June 2010—The Massachusetts Ban on Ambulance Diversion