Who Says You’re Dead? Medical & Ethical Dilemmas for the Curious & Concerned

John E. Snellings, MD

Fam Med. 2020;52(3):227-227.

DOI: 10.22454/FamMed.2020.396342

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Book Title: Who Says You’re Dead? Medical & Ethical Dilemmas for the Curious & Concerned

Book Author: Jacob M. Appel

Publication Information: Chapel Hill, NC, Algonquin Books, 2019, 352 pp., $23.95, paperback

Practicing medicine in today’s society is fraught with a seemingly endless supply of ethical questions and moral challenges. Dr Appel provides readers, both health care professionals and otherwise, the mental challenge of answering these questions in Who Says You’re Dead? Medical & Ethical Dilemmas for the Curious & Concerned.

Formatted as 79 quick-hitting reflections with six overarching themes, the book effectively provides example vignettes of medical-ethical dilemmas accompanied by a brief discussion of central points of the issues’ debates. The book tackles themes ranging from some of the more common yet challenging topics physicians are required to address, including end-of-life decision making, informed consent, patient privacy issues, to emerging ethical quandaries such as genetic privacy and cognitive enhancement.

While physicians will appreciate this collection, particularly the additional background citations for each reflection, the nonmedical reader has potentially even more to gain from this book, getting a glimpse into the complex questions that challenge even the most seasoned practitioner. With most vignettes comprising five pages or less, the book neatly avoids becoming bogged down in detail, which would likely swing the appeal pendulum back toward the medical community. The book is entertaining and extremely pertinent; it even has the potential to bring medical laypeople to a better understanding of the challenges of physicians’ medicolegal and ethical decision-making processes, when they might otherwise not have the opportunity to fully grasp the full breadth of each hypothetical’s debate.

Lead Author

John E. Snellings, MD

Affiliations: Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, VA

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