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Book and Media Reviews
August 1, 2007

Bioethics and Armed Conflict: Moral Dilemmas of Medicine and War

Author Affiliations

Book and Media Reviews Section Editor: John L. Zeller, MD, PhD, Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2007;298(5):569-573. doi:10.1001/jama.298.5.569-a

In this book, Michael Gross examines how medical ethics in times of war is different from medical ethics in peacetime. The differences relate to the fact that wartime medicine focuses primary concern toward aggregated collective interests rather than individual patient welfare. In extended discussion of a number of issues, including care of the wounded, patient rights of soldiers, triage, torture and interrogation, chemical and biological warfare, and professional obligations during armed conflict, Gross illustrates how the change in perspective from individual to collective interests transforms our understanding of the right to life and of medical care, informed consent, confidentiality, and the right to die. The “Informed Consent and the Military” section illustrates particularly well the practical implications of a change in focus from individual patient welfare (medical risk) and collective welfare (military risk).

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