Ivan Zamorano

Acupunture Treatment

How does philosophy affect medicine?

How does philosophy affect medicine?


I think as philosophers we’re very invested
in what it means to give an account of a good life. One of the doctors told us this really
wonderful story. I had a patient several years ago that was
admitted for gastrointestinal bleeding. He was on a blood thinner and he was put on this a few years after he had his heart valve replaced. And, so, the doctor went to go check in on
the patient. And the patient was staring out the window… …and the thing about this valve is that
they’re mechanical and they click. The person who has the valve can often hear
the valve clicking in their own body. And when the doctor asked them what was wrong,
the patient answered that… He’d been lying there thinking about what
they had done to him. As in put in this valve, put him on this medicine
that he was stuck on for the rest of his life. And the whole time this was going through
his head he was looking out the window and watching the lights up on the hill blinking. And he got frustrated because… The blinking of the light was out of sync
with the ticking of his mechanical valve and that it was driving him insane. Intention is so important, but when you’re
in an operating room and you intend to heal a patient, but it has these unintended consequences, how does that affect the ethics of the situation? Clinical Ethics focuses on ethical problems
that tend to emerge within a hospital setting. My class has nearly half of the students being
human physiology majors and biology majors. And on the other hand we have philosophy students
that are doing a lot of work in the humanities, in general. One of the biggest criticisms I get about
things like medical philosophy is, “That’s not actually how it works. That’s not how it’s applied.” This class, kind of, takes that into consideration. I remember there was this one meeting where
I kind of just had to sit back and be like maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m wrong in that kind of thinking that
informed consent is what we should strive for as a medical society. And that was directly after our conversation
with Doctor Raj Alexander. He said that, to some degree, a doctor does
know best. Informed consent to me, as a hospitalist,
a practicing physician, is about getting into partnership with the patient so that they
agree to the treatment that you’re going to give them. They need to know what those effects are,
why you’re giving them to them, what the alternatives are, what the risks are. And then, ideally, they would say, “Yes, I
want you to give me the medicine.” Otherwise, it’s all one sided. It needs to be a partnership. It’s really incredible as a philosophy student
to be able to walk into a hospital to take a course. That’s something that I think is
really unique and different. And that’s what is so exciting about this
class. It really encapsulates what it means to foster
a liberal education. So, one of the things that made this class
interesting is definitely the joint relationship between the U of O and Peace Health. Being in a classroom on Tuesday, being in
a hospital on Thursday. This partnership with Peace Health wouldn’t
have happened without the generous time and effort of John Holmes,
who’s the Director of Ethics. I really am passionate about ensuring that
students get that opportunity because I feel it was so important for me development professionally
and personally. And if I can just give even a little bit of
that to another student I’ve done my job. John made it possible for myself, and for
three students, to be a part of an organ harvesting procedure. We found ourselves in the operating room and
we have witnessed the ways in which organs are harvested From a patient who was dead by brain criteria. When you watch someone’s chest being opened
up, and when you watch the main artery of the heart being cut, and you see that the
heart is still beating, and you see that this person still so much a human… The part of me as a human felt, like, “Wow”. That heart kept going. And I cannot shake that feeling. It reminds to all of us the extent to which
we are finite beings. There are just some times in medicine where
things are gonna go as you expect. And you’re going to have to make hard choices. Helping the care team sort that out is really
what a clinical bioethicist can do if they do it right and they do it well. This class has done nothing but surprised
me in that I feel like it’s made me more passionate about my drive to practice medicine. And it’s given me more skills, both rationally
and morally, to help me combat difficult aspects of medicine. It’s really important to learn about value
debates, and it’s equally important to realize how those value debates translate into real
life situations.

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