Lantos, John D.
LANTOS, John D.
University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, pediatrician and professor of medicine.
(Editor, with G. Roberto Burgio) Primum Non Nocere Today: A Symposium on Pediatric Bioethics: Proceedings of the International Symposium on Pediatric Bioethics, Pavia, 26-28 May 1994, Elsevier (New York, NY), 1994, 2nd edition, 1998.
Do We Still Need Doctors?, Routledge (New York, NY), 1997, published as Do We Still Need Doctors? A Physician's Personal Account of Practicing Medicine Today, Routledge (New York, NY), 1999.
(Editor, with Carl Elliott) The Last Physician: Walker Percy and the Moral Life of Medicine, Duke University Press (Durham, NC), 1999.
The Lazarus Case: Life and Death Issues in Neonatal Intensive Care, Johns Hopkins University Press (Baltimore, MD), 2001.
(With William L. Meadow) Neonatal Bioethics: The Moral Challenges of Medical Innovation, Johns Hopkins University Press (Baltimore, MD), 2006.
John D. Lantos is a pediatrician, a professor, and a bioethicist specializing in issues related to neonatal care. His interest in the moral aspects of medicine is evident in his work on The Last Physician: Walker Percy and the Moral Life of Medicine, a collection of essays that Lantos edited with Carl Elliott. Percy was a nineteenth-century physician and novelist whose work explored some of the philosophical issues inherent in medicine. Percy himself had realized the limits of his scientific, medical education when he was diagnosed with tuberculosis, a deadly disease that was then incurable. "This collection is especially insightful for the way it considers how Percy's work might transform medicine," commented Gary M. Ciuba in a review for the Mississippi Quarterly. Rolf Myller, evaluating the book for the Hastings Center Report, commented that "many people have a first encounter with Percy's writing that takes their breath away and is never forgotten." This collection captures that phenomenon and also highlights the appeal Percy's works have for "semi-disappointed physicians," in Myller's estimation.
Lantos explores the modern moral challenges facing modern physicians in Do We Still Need Doctors? A Physician's Personal Account of Practicing Medicine Today. He discusses the consequences of high-tech medicine, an over-reliance on the scientific model, pharmaceutical companies that encourage doctors to push their latest products, and many other issues. "Lantos writes beautifully about painful clinical dilemmas, and he lets us into his heart as a doctor and a parent," stated Peter Herbert in the British Medical Journal. Herbert further credited Lantos with not only telling stories well, but also offering "clear ethical and philosophical observations." "Lantos' book challenges most assumptions of modern medicine, provides an intelligent read for all doctors, who will recognise their own dilemmas, and would form an excellent basis for any medical ethics course," wrote Chris McManus in the Lancet.
Lantos treats a narrower subject with The Lazarus Case: Life and Death Issues in Neonatal IntensiveCare. As a pediatrician, Lantos has extensive experience with the issues that arise around the medical care of newborns. He describes lawsuits concerned with neonatal issues as "public morality plays" and creates a fictional case in order to probe those issues. The case involves a very premature infant, a doctor who decides to stop trying to resuscitate the infant, and what happens when the infant then survives with serious neurological problems. Casting himself as the expert witness in the trial, Lantos looks at the responsibilities, misunderstandings, and cloudy issues in the case. By so doing, he portrays "in a most effective, compelling, erudite, and compassionate way the enormous complexity of these issues," said Forrester Cockburn in the Archives of Disease in Childhood. Throughout his book, the author is always mindful of the human factor. As James T. Bretzke summarized in a review for the America Web site: "Perhaps the most laudable feature of this book is the realism with which Lantos forces us to acknowledge the inherent limitations of any concrete medical practice. As he observes, a medical 'system that demands decisions of doctors under conditions of uncertainty cannot also demand perfection in those decisions. Mistakes are the price of being human.'"
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Archives of Disease in Childhood, March, 2003, Forrester Cockburn, review of The Lazarus Case: Life and Death Issues in Neonatal Intensive Care, p. F164.
British Medical Journal, March 28, 1998, Peter Herbert, review of Do We Still Need Doctors? A Physician's Personal Account of Practicing Medicine Today, p. 1028.
Christianity and Literature, J. Robert Baker, review of The Last Physician: Walker Percy and the Moral Life of Medicine, p. 498.
Hastings Center Report, March, 2001, Rolf Myller, review of The Last Physician, p. 42.
Issues in Law and Medicine, summer, 2002, review of The Lazarus Case, p. 106.
Journal of Medical Ethics, April, 2000, Thomas E. Oppe, review of Primum Non Nocere Today: A Symposium on Pediatric Bioethics: Proceedings of the International Symposium on Pediatric Bioethics, Pavia, 26-28 May 1994 (2nd edition), p. 147.
Lancet, October 25, 1997, Chris McManus, review of Do We Still Need Doctors?, p. 1257.
Library Journal, June 1, 1997, James Swanton, review of Do We Still Need Doctors?, p. 134; November 15, 2001, Tina Neville, review of The Lazarus Case, p. 92.
Mississippi Quarterly, summer, 2000, Gary M. Ciuba, review of The Last Physician, p. 443.
America,http://www.americamagazine.org/ (September 26, 2006), James T. Bretzke, review of The Lazarus Case. *