"When Good Doctors Go Bad:"

Julia Bolzon
Celebrity surgeon Paolo Macchiarini performed experimental transplant surgery on patients with missing or damaged windpipes using an artificial trachea made of a polymer scaffold and the patient's own stem cells. In theory, the stem cells should grow to replace the missing tissue. However, of the eight surgeries he performed between 2011 and 2014, all but one of his patients died. The one who remained alive is still in intensive care. Not only did Macchiarini manipulate the results reported
more » ... t the procedure's success, he also lied to his patients about the procedure's safety, and knowingly performed it on patients whose conditions were not life-threatening. Moreover, he executed much of this without his patient's consent.[1] A few weeks before hearing about Macchiarini, I read selections from Atul Gawande's Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science for a bioethics class on the theme of 'prudence and the concrete.'Complications is a doctor's musings on the medical profession at large, what he finds is "a strange and in many ways disturbing business."[2] The medical field exudes competence, confidence, and technical mastery, but underneath it turns out to be "messy, uncertain, and also surprising."[3] In light of the report released surrounding Macchiarini's medical malpractice, Gawande's explorations of the perennial questions about medical decision-making, uncertainty, and trust are worth considering. As a student of philosophy and bioethics, with a keen interest in the treatment of the human person, I often wonder about the formation physicians receive, and how this affects their practice. How can physicians be better formed so as to make decisions that are humane, prudent, and just? Gawande's insights help address this question and more, by uncovering a fundamental aspect of medicine that is often overlooked: its inherently uncertain and risky nature. "Education of a Knife" The question of how surgeons "know" how to perform a surgery was something I had never considered, and the answers are na [...]
doi:10.7916/vib.v2i.5959 fatcat:sd4rtdfcingzhec3lkki6dzw6a