Kaufman Receives Robert B. Textor and Family Prize for Excellence in Anticipatory Anthropology - News - Stay Informed
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Kaufman Receives Robert B. Textor and Family Prize for Excellence in Anticipatory Anthropology

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November 12, 2018

Sharon Kaufman’s two books, Ordinary Medicine: Extraordinary Treatments, Longer Lives, and Where to Draw the Line (2015) and …And a Time to Die: How American Hospitals Shape the End of Life (2005, probe how and why the structures, ethos, and organization of our health care bureaucracy, largely hidden from public view, determine the kinds of medical treatments patients receive. The books investigate the present and future impacts of health care delivery on practitioners, patients, families, and the American public. They describe the socio-political and institutional sources of current US health care practice—and the disquiet that accompanies that practice—and suggest policy choices for health care reform.

Ordinary Medicine traces the ethical underpinnings of the multi-billion dollar biomedical health care enterprise, from research funding for treatments to what gets reimbursed by Medicare to what is considered standard and why to what patients and doctors talk about, agonize over, and decide to do.  By providing a map to the socio-cultural sources of our health care dilemmas, Kaufman offers a way to renew the goals of medicine, so it can serve as a social good in the twenty-first century. ...And a Time to Die has resonated across society for a decade as greater numbers of practitioners and health consumers seek reasons for why the “technological imperative,” with its “do everything” ethos even as death approaches, continues to have such a tenacious hold on medical practice. Both volumes are taught and read widely (including internationally) among physicians, nurses, other health professionals, and scholars in many disciplines. Both pay attention to what the future will look like: ever-older patients receiving high-tech treatments, many of which prolong dying; a growing burden of dilemmas for families; and higher economic cost. As works in anticipatory anthropology, they are part of the national dialogue paving the way for preferable futures for our medical and care delivery system.

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