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Making Sense of Medical Ethics - A Hands-on Guide (Book Review)

summer 2008

From triple helix - summer 2008 - Making Sense of Medical Ethics - A Hands-on Guide (Book Review) [pp16-18]

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Alan G Johnson and Paul R V Johnson - Hodder Arnold 2007 - £17.99 Pb 224pp - ISBN 0 34092 5590

This book, written jointly by CMF's late President Alan Johnson and his son Paul, has the look and feel of a practical guide to the sometimes confusing field of medical ethics. Its simple layout, diagrams, and illustrations make complicated concepts accessible for medical students, doctors and lay people.

The authors set the scene in the first chapter and then explore the ethical theories and value systems that inform ethical principles. They discuss Beauchamp and Childress's familiar four principles in detail and untangle some of the conflicts between them, with clinical cases as examples. The chapters on ethical pathways give the reader a tool to unravel ethical dilemmas for themselves, making this book of practical use rather than just a good explanation of ethical theory.

Some issues are mentioned a little too briefly to satisfy the reader that the basic issues have been identified, and the section on aging seems to be muddled with the preceding paragraph about medical enhancement. Nonetheless, this valuable legacy from our late President would be an excellent purchase for all medical ethics teachers and interested novices.

Article written by Emma Hayward

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