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T.A. Cavanaugh

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date: 29 November 2020

The Introduction explains the relevance of the cover art, “the bas-relief of Telephus,” to the book’s theme—that doctoring must exclude deliberate wounding. The relief depicts Achilles’ healing of Telephus, whom Achilles had wounded. Telephus’ wound festered; the Delphic oracle told him that “the wounder heals.” This pithy truth points to an allied, more worrisome phenomenon. Namely, just as the wounder heals, so too does the healer wound—the problem of a doctor wounding (iatrogenic harm). The Hippocratic Oath addresses this salient problem, especially as found in a physician deliberately injuring a patient, e.g., euthanizing a patient, even at that patient’s request. The Introduction summarizes how each chapter addresses the Oath—the need for the Oath, the Oath and associated contract, iatrogenic harm as the fundamental medical-ethical issue paradigmatically illustrated by a physician’s involvement in killing, and, finally, medicine as involving a profession of an ethic internal to itself.

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