The story of two doctors, a father and son, who practiced in very different times and the evolution of the ethics that profoundly influence health care
Medicine has undergone drastic changes over the decades—from a highly patriarchal system where doctor knew best and made decisions accordingly to today's more patient-centered system, where well-informed patients often take the lead. Dr. Phillip Lerner, the author's father, practiced at a time when doctors commanded unparalleled respect, making most decisions for their patients, even about life and death. When Barron read in his father’s journals how he’d once thrown himself over the body of a dying patient to prevent his colleagues from resuscitating her, the younger Lerner was shocked. Used to patients who are informed, involved, and even activists, the son saw his father’s action as that of a doctor “playing God,” with the kind of paternalism that has no place in the new reality of medicine. Later, as a seasoned doctor, Barron Lerner came to understand the constantly shifting nature of ethics in medicine. Through his father's stories, his own recollections, and his professional expertise, Dr. Lerner investigates the ethical shifts that have shaken the medical profession over the past four decades. The Good Doctor is the story of one American family and its intersection with the transformation of the practice of medicine for doctors and their patients.
"Barron Lerner’s marvelous book—a deeply intimate story about his father and the practice of medicine—touches on some of the most profound issues in medicine today: autonomy, medical wisdom, empathy, paternalism and the evolving roles of the doctor and patient. This is one of the most thoughtful and provocative books that I have read in a long time, and I suspect that generations of doctors and patients will find it just as thought provoking."
—Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of The Emperor of All Maladies (Pulitzer Prize Winner, 2011)
The Good Doctor is a lovely book and a loving book; it's a book about medicine and family and ethics and history which embraces complexity and speaks to all those subjects with wide-ranging compassion and great good sense. And it's a father-son doctor saga with much to say about the healing power of story and understanding.—Perri Klass, MD, author of A Not Entirely Benign Procedure and The Mercy Rule