Medicine And Multimedia

The New Dictionary of Medical Ethics

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: (Published 24 October 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:1162
  1. Pamela J Taylor, professor of special hospital psychiatry
  1. Institute of Psychiatry, London

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    BMJ Books, £19.95, pp 304

    ISBN 0 7279 1001 9

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    Eds Kenneth M Boyd, Roger Higgs, Anthony Pinching

    A man recovering from schizophrenia told me with some pride that he had started to read a book. “Good, what are you reading?” I asked. “The dictionary,” he said. At the time I thought his choice indicative that his recovery was not complete. Now I have been asked to review, and thus presumably read, a dictionary for the BMJ. Is this a lesson in not being too ready to infer pathology in patients?

    The effort to produce this particular dictionary was important. As medical care and treatment develop, so the challenges to ethical practice change too. There is a tendency to attribute much of the latter to growth in technology, but at least as great a challenge has come from an extension of the holistic approach—the multidisciplinary team.

    Technology is defined in the dictionary as “The tools that extend the doctors' skills,” but the entry has little of an ethical dimension. The reader is taken to the brink—with the use of …

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