Science, humanism, judgement, ethics: person-centered medicine as an emergent model of modern clinical practice.
ABSTRACT The Medical University of Plovdiv (MUP) has as its motto 'Committed to humanity". But what does humanity in modern medicine mean? Is it possible to practise a form of medicine that is without humanity? In the current article, it is argued that modern medicine is increasingly being practised in a de-personalised fashion, where the patient is understood not as a unique human individual, a person, but rather as a subject or an object and more in the manner of a complex biological machine. Medicine has, it is contended, become distracted from its duty to care, comfort and console as well as to ameliorate, attenuate and cure and that the rapid development of medicine's scientific knowledge is, paradoxically, principally causative. Signal occurrences in the 'patient as a person' movement are reviewed, together with the emergence of the evidence-based medicine (EBM) and patient-centered care (PCC) movements. The characteristics of a model of medicine evolving in response to medicine's current deficiencies--person-centered healthcare (PCH)--are noted and described. In seeking to apply science with humanism, via clinical judgement, within an ethical framework, it is contended that PCH will prove to be far more responsive to the needs of the individual patient and his/her personal circumstances than current models of practice, so that neither a reductive anatomico-pathological, disease-centric model of illness (EBM), nor an aggressive patient-directed, consumerist form of care (PCC) is allowed continued dominance within modern healthcare systems. In conclusion, it is argued that PCH will enable affordable advances in biomedicine and technology to be delivered to patients within a humanistic framework of clinical practice that recognises the patient as a person and which takes full account of his/her stories, values, preferences, goals, aspirations, fears, worries, hopes, cultural context and which responds to his/her psychological, emotional, spiritual and social necessities in addition to his/her physical needs. MUP, in assimilating such arguments and introducing person-centered medicine teaching into the University, is engaged in a notable and laudable initiative which will function as a salutary example to other medical schools within Europe and elsewhere.