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Written by Tony Hope and published by the Oxford University Press back in 2004, this book is called Medical Ethics: A Very Short Introduction. It is part of a very extensive series of books that all come under the 'Very Short Introduction' styling, and includes other books such as Classics; Darwin; Shakespeare; Roman Britain; Mathematics; The Tudors; Evolution, and so on - in other words, subjects that are quite heavy but are introduced in this way and are all written by experts in that particular area.
Which now leads me on to the author! Tony Hope is the Professor of Medical Ethics at Oxford University, and is the founder of The Oxford Centre for Ethics and Communication in Health Care Practice as well as writing other books on medical and health care related issues - and so I hope that he knows what eh is talking about, or we are all stuck!
Covering some 150 pages, the book is split up as follows:
1. On why medical ethics is exciting - the 'introduction to the introduction' as it were, this explains a little bit behind the whole issue of medical ethics.
2. Euthanasia: good medical practice, or murder? - enough said!
3. Why undervaluing 'statistical' people costs lives - talking about the people that fall in to certain categories, and what will happen if certain things are performed over other things (such as withholding a drug over giving it and how many people will be affected as a result).
4. People who don't exist: at least not yet - this chapter talks about 'before conception', and the issues surrounding areas such as IVF.
5. A tool-box for reasoning - talking about ethics being an area that makes you think, and some of the issues that may be prevalent.
6. Inconsistencies about madness - this section talks about mental health issues, and many of the debates that surround it,
7. How modern genetics is testing traditional confidentiality - issues such as paternity tests are discussed, and how the mother may wish to keep the father of her child unknown against what the father wants against what is best for the child, just think of Jeremy Kyle!
8. Is medical research the new imperialism? - talking about the fact that any new practices in medicine in the future can only really be formed if research is done today, but how ethical can some of it be according to what may be being researched at the time?
9. Family medicine meets the House of Lords - this section raises issues that have reached parliament on a national scale, and includes that of dementia and a teenage girl who is pregnant (but still at school only being 15).
Following on from this are the usual reference sections and the index, but that is pretty much bulk standard in any reference book that you are going to be buying!
I am not going to go in to all of the what ifs or why nots and so on of the whole world of medical ethics here as this is not my place to (owing to the fact that this is only meant to be a review on a book!), as the whole area and subject is so vast that I am sure the debates that are surrounding it will continue for years to come.
But with this said, this book is actually a really useful insight in to the whole area of medical ethics whether you are directly involved in it through your working life or even if you just have a passing interest in it. After all, in this day and age medical ethics is going to be something that will no doubt affect most if not all of us at some point in our lifetimes.
I actually bought this book about six years ago when I was a student, and I bought it in my local Smiths for £7.99. There is not actually any price printed on the cover, and this was the price they charged themselves for it but yet again what I will say is that the prices of anything can vary according to wherever you buy it so it is worth looking around! The ISBN for it is 978-0-19-280282-8.