I've decided to go ahead and post a series on Medicine and the Law. One of the things I hear about so often from both sides of the patient-physician relationship is the fear and threat of legal action. Typically physicians are paranoid of being sued. They practice defensive medicine and go out of their way to write copious notes, dictate exhaustive patient summaries and operative reports. For the practicing physician, all the documentation, paperwork, and reporting is simply exhausting. Sometimes all of the documentation takes up way more time and energy than the actual exam or procedure. It is a sad state of affairs when 90% of the time allocated to a patient is dedicated to documentation rather than with actual time with the patient.
When it comes to politics, it's difficult to be a physician these days. There are many strong candidates in the presidential primaries this year. From the Republican side you've got a very ethical leader in John McCain. For the Democrats you've got a very charismatic and young Barack Obama and a very smart and battle-tested Hillary Clinton. All of them have very interesting ideas about the healthcare system and improving access to medical care. Physicians as a voter demographic are a tough nut to crack.
In part one, I gave an example of a book that you could have someone read, when that someone preferred a Biblical version of the age of the earth. The book was Mysteries of Terra Firma: The Age and Evolution of the Earth. The reason I'm suggesting this book as an example is that it takes you through the history of the discoveries. Stories engage minds that are vulnerable to fundamentalist thought. They need the story in order to get more of a gestalt, rather than having facts thrown at them. Facts are like an attack, while a story involves the reader and gains mental real estate in an attractive way. Stories create images and interest in actual people and their struggles. Don't create a push-pull and arouse knee-jerk defenses.
In part one, I suggested two games that hold people accountable for having a meaningful debate. Here are my suggestions for the rules of ethical debate that you can use for awarding points. The first items have more points because they are the most important ones; focusing the strongest attention to them acts as a wedge for introducing ethical debate. The high point items do the most to destabilize a civilized discussion, so they are the first ones you'll want to get under control. They are also the most primitive and brutal tactics, and are the first ones that unethical debaters reach for. Once those are understood, the others will come into focus more easily.
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