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Arthur H. Parsons and Patricia Houlihan Parsons

Every day in hospitals, clinics, and medical offices, health professionals confront ethical problems ranging from relatively simple to extremely complex. The amazing advances in technology that save so many lives have also created serious ethical problems, such as how to allocate increasingly scarce resources, support patient autonomy, maintain confidentiality, and define life and death. And in facing many difficult dilemmas of modern medicine, health care workers must also consider how to balance the needs of the individual patient with the needs of society.

This practical text explores the nature of many current ethical dilemmas, clarifies the underlying issues, discusses the practical application of ethical principles to health care situations, and offers sensible guidance to aid in the decision-making process.


In every encounter with a patient there is a component which is medical or physiological in nature, but there is also a more important component that is neither. That element is the value systems that both you and your patient bring to the relationship, independent of one another. Further, your own understanding of relationships in general and communication in particular will affect the outcome of that encounter and determine how much the patient will trust you. A careful consideration of the modern wedges that threaten to widen the gap between caregiver and patient is necessary to the continued development of our abilities to deliver humane and compassionate care.

ISBN 1-895131-08-1
Paperback, 208 pages
Published in 1992.
$29.50 (Cdn), $24.95 (US)

Arthur H. Parsons, B.Sc., M.D., is a family physician in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He formerly chaired the Ethics Committee of the Canadian Medical Association for 10 years.

Patricia Houlihan Parsons, B.N., M.Sc., is Assistant Professor of Public Relations at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. With past experience in both nursing administration and education, she currently specializes in communication about complex medical issues.

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