Why do we make it so difficult to die well in American health care institutions?

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Arthur Caplan, PhD, is currently the Drs. William F and Virginia Connolly Mitty Professor and founding head of the Division of Bioethics at New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City.

Prior to coming to NYU he was the Sidney D. Caplan Professor of Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia where he created the Center for Bioethics and the Department of Medical Ethics. Dr. Caplan has also taught at the University of Minnesota, where he founded the Center for Biomedical Ethics; the University of Pittsburgh, and Columbia University. He was the Associate Director of the Hastings Center from 1984 –1987.

Dr. Caplan is the author or editor of 30 books and more than 550 papers in refereed journals. His most recent books are Smart Mice Not So Smart People (Rowman Littlefield, 2006) and the Penn Guide to Bioethics (Springer, 2009). Dr. Caplan also writes a regular column on bioethics for NBC.com. He is a monthly commentator on bioethics and health care issues for WebMD/Medscape and appears frequently as a guest and commentator on various other national and international media outlets.

Dr. Caplan is the recipient of many awards and honors including the McGovern Medal of the American Medical Writers Association and the Franklin Award from the city of Philadelphia. He received the Patricia Price Browne Prize in Biomedical Ethics for 2011. He was a USA Today person of the Year-2001. He was described as one of the 10 most influential people in science by Discover magazine in 2008. He has also been honored as one of the 50 most influential people in American healthcare by Modern Health Care magazine, one of the 10 most influential people in America in biotechnology by the National Journal, one of the 10 most influential people in the ethics of biotechnology by the editors of Nature Biotechnology.

Born in Boston, Dr. Caplan did his undergraduate work at Brandeis University, and did his graduate work at Columbia University where he received a PhD in the history and philosophy of science in 1979. He holds seven honorary degrees from colleges and medical schools. He is a fellow of the Hastings Center, the New York Academy of Medicine, the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, the American College of Legal Medicine and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.


Berkowitz Humanism in Medicine lectureship Jeff erson Medical College is grateful to Mr. Ed Berkowitz and his family for the generous donation that has established the Berkowitz Humanism in Medicine Lectureship.

Th e Berkowitz Humanism in Medicine Lectureship will help engage Jeff erson’s students and physicians on various areas in medical humanism, including topics that will enhance their compassion toward patients, will improve their communication skills with patients, and will allow for a better understanding about how to practice medicine with a patient-centered vision of delivering improved humanistic medical care.

Objectives of Today’s lecture

• What are advanced directives and why don’t they work very well?

• What matters to patients in terms of autonomy?

• Should doctors be more paternalistic, and if so, how can this be done ethically?

• How to make clear who has decision-making authority when patients cannot communicate or even when they can.

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