Ordinary Medicine, Extraordinary Treatment

KaufmanSharon5-SWhere do you draw the line at too much treatment? Many of us think we don’t want heroic measures to drag out our deaths. But everything from the way we fund medical research to the way most doctors practice medicine pushes us in the opposite direction. We’ll spend the hour probing the intersection of industry, bureaucracy, culture, and health — and how to change it for the better.


  • Sharon Kaufman, chair of the Department of Anthropology, History and Social Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco; author of Ordinary Medicine: Extraordinary Treatments, Longer Lives, and Where to Draw the Line
  • Jersey Cub

    Brian, I was very disappointed with your interview of Dr Sharon Kaufman. My disappoint is due to your not asking any hard questions about where her extreme utilitarian medical philosophy would take medicine. I am familiar with Dr Kaufman’s work. Her philosophy will lead to age limits on specific life saving practices. This would mean an 85 year old person who is in good physical condition for their age suddenly having a medical emergency. She would have medicare and insurance limit the use of “expensive medical treatments” by age. It should not surprise anyone that she supports suicide by doctor legislation. Even though it is couched in “compassion” it is really just another utilitarian method for reducing costs. This underlies all of Dr Kaufman’s approach. One just has to look at what is going on in Belgium with there executing the mentally insane based on money savings. The proponents of legalization of suicide are clear that they want go in the same direction. Dr Kaufman wants to reduce or take away the patient’s right to chose. I am very disappointed with KPFA’s failure to actually investigate what is in the so-called Death With Dignity bill or what really happened to Brittany Maynard who made a video saying she wanted to continue living and that very night she “took” the poison pills. The California bill (SB 128) does not require any independent witness to the taking of the pills. So anything could happen including including giving the person the pills in a disguised form. I am sorry that you and KPFA have been taken in by the false claim of compassion by these extreme utilitarians.

    Mike Hodas

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