On November 18, 2013, the Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution hosted its fall 2013 symposium, entitled “Bioethics, Healthcare Policy, & Alternative Dispute Resolution in the Age of Obamacare.” Friend of Indisputably Lela Love was kind enough to send along this synopsis of the event.
“Tell us please, what treatment in an emergency is administered by ear?”…. I met his gaze and I did not blink. “Words of comfort,” I said to my father.” (from Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese)
This idea of “words of comfort” was echoed throughout the day at Cardozo’s conference–the need for a kinder and more relational world, particularly as healthcare intervenes in death, dying, and other traumatic life crises.
Scholars and practitioners in attendance included: Edward Bergman, Nancy Berlinger, Arthur Caplan, Geoff Drucker, Nancy Dubler, Autumn Fiester, Debra Gerardi, Mindy Hatton, Michael Kosnitzky, Carol Liebman, Joe Miller, Thaddeus Pope, Charity Scott, Michelle Skipper, and Ellen Waldman. Speakers enjoyed a full house in Cardozo’s Moot Court for the panels and keynotes and a lively exchange at lunch time. Shawna Benston, the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Conflict Resolution, was the mastermind
of the event and kept the program moving along at a brisk pace.
What were my personal take-aways from the conference?
* That medical technology and health care, so advanced in many ways, must better learn to serve patient self-determination and autonomy.
* That dispute system design and imparting communication and interpersonal skills to care-providers is high on the agenda in terms of building a system with shared decision-making and collaborative care that truly serves patients and families as they confront
personal health care crises.
* That better communication between patients and physicians, as well as others in the health care system (nurses, technicians and hospital personnel), is a cornerstone of good care.
Many doctors and nurses (picture here the famous Doctor House) are good technicians but not skilled in communication or expressing empathy or relation. Medical personnel need to be capable of leading conversations about imminent death, for example, and they currently are not. The next era of education and dispute system design must address that deficit.