Emerson Lecture - Patients Need Doctors with Consciences

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Reception to follow. Free and open to the public.

Parking in Bryan Research Building Garage on Research Drive. This garage leads to the traffic circle next to the Trent Semans Center for Health Education.

In this lecture, Victoria Sweet, MD reviews the history of patients' rights and the healthcare consumer movement. She argues that these movements have unwittingly contributed to a commercial model of medicine in which patients demand treatments that are bad for them and expensive for the healthcare system, doctors are pressured to do what they think is wrong, and patients cannot trust their physicians to do their best for them. In the face of growing corporate power in healthcare, Dr. Sweet argues, patients need more than ever for their doctors to have consciences. The most powerful rule of conscience is the oldest--the Hippocratic Oath's formulation that doctors should enter the exam room solely for the benefit of their patients.

Victoria Sweet is an Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and a prize-winning historian with a Ph.D. in history. She practiced medicine for over twenty years at Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco, where she began writing.  She is author of God's Hotel: A Doctor, a Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine (Riverhead, 2012), and Slow Medicine: The Way to Healing (Riverhead, 2017). In these books she argues that medicine works best for everyone--that is, arrives at the right diagnosis and the right treatment for the least amount of money--when it is personal and face-to-face.
The Nancy Weaver Emerson Lectureship in Medical Ethics was established in 1997 to honor Nancy Weaver Emerson whose legacy shows us that patients can be our most courageous and extraordinary partners in advancing research, treatment, education and policy.