Patient Autonomy and Shifting Medical Ethics, with Dr. Barron Lerner

July 20, 2015

This week, Lindsay Beyerstein chats with medical ethicist Dr. Barron Lerner, author of the new book The Good Doctor: A Father, A Son and the Evolution of Medical Ethics. Lerner’s father Phillip Lerner was a renowned infectious disease specialist who practiced medicine during what many consider to be the golden era of American medicine. Being a generation apart, Barron and Myer Lerner where taught very different approaches to medical ethics, especially when it came to patient autonomy and end-of-life issues.

Dr. Lerner critically examines the ethical principles that his father operated under during his years in practice, and explores how these ethical norms have either retained their value or become outdated. His understanding of his father’s point of view was illuminated when he was forced to make decisions about what was in the best interest of his father’s own medical care, without the benefit of his father’s input on the matter. Barron’s unique perspective paints a global picture of all of the ethical considerations that come into play when practicing medicine as he wrestles with what he believes it takes to be a good doctor.

*Correction: In the introduction of this episode, Dr. Meyer Lerner is referenced as Barron Lerner’s father. Barron Lerner’s father is Dr. Philip Lerner; Meyer Lerner is Barron’s grandfather.