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Book and Media Reviews
April 14, 2010

Medical Ethics and the Faith Factor: A Handbook for Clergy and Health-Care Professionals

JAMA. 2010;303(14):1431. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.420

In Medical Ethics and the Faith Factor, Robert Orr provides the overall rationale for ethical decision-making as well as for certain discrete medical issues: failure of the cardiac, pulmonary, renal, and neurologic systems; pregnancy; reproductive disorders; failure to eat, drink, or both; organ transplantation; and cognitive diminution. He also discusses ethical issues in the neonatal and pediatric age groups, as well as in certain cultural or religious beliefs.

For each of these diagnostic subsets, he illustrates the ethical point(s) he is trying to make by use of case studies, with 5 to 14 cases for each condition. The case studies are illustrative in describing the myriad issues that accompany the medical problem. As such, this book is an outstanding resource for teaching medical ethics to students, residents, fellows, nurses, and allied health professionals, because the cases can encourage much discussion and many questions. It can likewise be an exceedingly helpful resource in the training of clergy, especially in the context of clinical pastoral education. Although the subtitle gives the reader the impression that the book is targeted first to clergy and then to health care professionals, in my reading of the text, I think that the opposite is the case.

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