Vandals at the Gates of Medicine: Historic Perspectives on the Battle over Health Care Reform

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9780964107700: Vandals at the Gates of Medicine: Historic Perspectives on the Battle over Health Care Reform
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Dr. Miguel A. Faria, Jr., who is a consultant neurosurgeon and Adjunct Professor of Medical History (ret.) at Mercer University School of Medicine, has combined astute political insight with his encyclopedic knowledge of history to create this unique blend of historical perspective and political commentary, with its emphasis on the history of medicine and medical ethics.

The book is divided into the following seven sections: Antiquity, Greece, Rome, Graeco-Roman medicine, Graeco-Roman medical ethics and intimations for the present, Middle Ages, and the Renaissance. The numerous sources he uses include the Edwin Smith Papyrus (the first medical book), the Ebers Papyrus, the Code of Hammurabi; Homer's The Iliad, and the writings of Herodotus, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Hippocrates, Celsus, Galen, Maimonides, Paracelsus, Vesalius, Paré, and Harvey.

The author points out that medical ethics dates back to the 8th Century B.C., with descriptions found in Homer's The Iliad, Herodotus' Accounts of the Persian Wars, the Pythagorean Principles, and Hippocrates' Corpus Hippocraticum. The oldest ethical theory is virtue-based and emphasizes the professional individuality of the physician rather than the resolution of every complex ethical dilemma. It takes into account the humanity of both the physician and patient, and the special kind of human relationship, which binds the two. This relationship depends largely on the character, trust-worthiness, moral sensitivity, and resources of the physician, with the physician serving beyond self-interest...

The most important reason to study the past is to attempt to foretell the future. Dr. Faria maintains the study of recorded history warns we should reject the "egalitarian socialist ethos of [our] entrenched political establishment" and instead adopt an objective philosophy, which embraces enlightened self-interest, private charity, and individual responsibility. He suggests that Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs) will empower patients instead of government and third parties, and are the key to allow correction of our own government-created health care problems without the use of coercion and rationing.

Vandals at the Gates of Medicine is perhaps the most impressive book on health care reform to be published in recent years, a priceless treasure of lessons to be found in our past...Its unique importance for health care professionals, business executives, politicians, and interested patients, is its emphasis on the development of medical ethics and the importance of ethics in today's health care reform debate. From a review by Jerome C. Arnett, Jr., MD, FCCP -- Medical Sentinel

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From the Inside Flap:

As we teeter at the brink of major health care reform, what should be the guiding light to lead us away from the precipice of socialized medicine and the total collapse of the American health care delivery system? How can we make sure that in the present battle over health system reform we proceed in the right direction and for the good of the nation?

Physicians -- an essential component in any health care system -- have been given very little opportunity to participate in this pivotal debate. Why is it that private practitioners, the backbone of any health care delivery system, have been essentially excluded from the policy discussions of health care initiatives by the government policymakers? Who is really pulling the strings behind the scene of health care reform?...What is their agenda?

Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D., provides compelling arguments that some of the answers to this great dilemma reside on the pages of history. This fascinating book draws parallels between the past and the present, as it takes us on a magical journey through time, traveling the ages and visiting enchanted periods in the annals of history: From the time when the fine line separating myth and history was blurred and indistinguishable to the clearly troubled present.... In the process, we learn the ethics and workings of the medical profession, and the mind and soul of physicians as they perform their work as healers.

Yes, this book succeeds in bringing to life great moments in Western civilization and in providing much needed ammunition, not to mention pabulum, for the currently being waged, intellectual battle over health care reform.

This is a momentous book that everyone who believes in the unassailable power of history and who is searching for answers to the moral, social, and economic problems of our society, not to mention the perplexing riddle of health system reform, will relish.

From the Back Cover:

Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D., provides compelling arguments that some of the answers to the great dilemma of health care reform reside on the pages of history. This fascinating book draws parallels between the past and the present, as it takes us on a magical journey through time, traveling the ages and visiting enchanted periods in the annals of history: From the time when the fine line separating myth and history was blurred and indistinguishable to the clearly troubled present....

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