In May 2015, Sharon R. Kaufman’s book Ordinary Medicine: Extraordinary Treatments, Longer Lives, and Where to Draw the Line is set to be released by Duke University Press. The text will address the contested division between what is a life-saving therapy and what proves to be over-treatment of older patients. This divide, Kaufman states, is frequently negotiated by pharmaceutical, biomedical, and insurance industries. Treatments that might seem aggressive or unnecessary to address late-life health concerns have become common procedures.
Drawing on ethnographic accounts from older patients, their families, and their physicians, Kaufman demonstrates how patients and their caregivers decide how much medical intervention is enough, or when it has gone too far. Kaufman considers what this new, medicalized meaning of the “end-of-life” means for patients and for the social world of medicine, while inviting us to consider how we might refresh the goals of medicine when caring for older patients.
Kaufman has previously published on a related topic in her book And a Time to Die: How American Hospitals Shape the End of Life. She is the Chair of the Department of Anthropology, History and Social Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.
See more about the book from the publisher’s website here: