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Pitts lecture addresses elderly care issues

by Maggie Mullen
Public Relations
The 16th Annual Thomas A. Pitts Memorial Lectureship will be held Oct. 30 and 31 at the MUSC College of Health Professions.
This year’s theme, “The Graying of America: Challenges and Controversies,” features eight speakers presenting thoughts in a point-counterpoint format. Robert Sade, M.D., professor in the Department of Surgery and chair of the lectureship planning committee, pointed out that “This year’s Thomas Pitts Lectureship will meet or exceed the very high standards set by previous lectureships. Notable scholars such as Daniel Callahan, Yale Kamisar, William May, and Timothy Quill will discuss topics at the top of the national political and bioethics agendas: Rationing Health Care; Racial, Ethnic, and Gender Health Care Disparities in the Elderly; Caring for Persons with Advanced Dementia; and Physician Assisted Suicide.”
The agenda includes nearly every hot button on medical ethics argued in society, medicine and in the courts.

Rationing Health Care
  • “Must We Ration Health Care for the Elderly?” by Daniel Callahan, Ph.D., co-founder and President Emeritus of The Hastings Center, Garrison, New York. Callahan is the author or editor of 40 books, and currently serves as director of the International Program. In addition, he is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Science.
  • “Can Rationing Health Care Ever Be Rational?” The counter argument will be provided by William R. Hazzard, M.D. Hazzard is a professor of gerontology and geriatric medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine. He is also chief of gerontology and line manager of geriatrics and extended care service of the VA Puget Sound Health Care. He has written extensively on topics in geriatrics and the physiology of aging.
Racial, Ethic, and Gender Health Care Disparities in the Elderly
  • “Social Justice, Health Disparities and Care of the Elderly” will be presented by Peggye Dilworth-Anderson, Ph.D., professor of health policy and administration at the University of North Carolina. Dilworth-Anderson’s research and publications have included both theoretically and empirically-based topics on ethnic minority families. She currently serves as president of the Gerontological Society of America.
  • “Pursuing Equality in Health Care for the Elderly is Futile” will be argued by Thomas P. Miller, J.D., resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. Miller is a member of the National Advisory Council for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Department of Health & Human Services. He has served as an economist for the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress and Senior Health Economist of the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Senate.
Caring for Persons with Advanced Dementia
  • “Testing the Medical Covenant in Caring for Persons with Advanced Dementia: View of a Medical Ethicist” will be provided by William F. May, Ph.D., Southern Methodist University. He has served on President Bush’s President’s Commission on Bioethics and on President Clinton’s Task Force on Health Care Reform.
  • Harvard Medical School’s Muriel Gillick, M.D., will contend with “The View of a Geriatrician.” Gillick is a professor of ambulatory care and prevention and  director of the Harvard Geriatrics Fellowship Program. In addition to publishing articles and writing books, she was previously physician-in-chief at the Hebrew Rehabilitation Center for the Aged.
Physician Assisted Suicide
  • “Physicians Should Assist Suicide When it is Appropriate,” is the argument presented by Timothy E Quill, M.D. Quill is a professor of medicine and director of the palliative care program at the University of Virginia. He has published and lectured extensively on end-of-life decision-making and is highly regarded nationally for his ongoing study of palliative care and end-of-life issues.
  • Yale Kamisar, JD, will contend that “Physician Assisted Suicide Should Not be Deemed a Constitutional Right Nor Be Legalized.” Kamisar is a Clarence Darrow Distinguished University Professor of Law Emeritus at the University of Michigan Law School. He is a nationally recognized authority on constitutional law and criminal procedure.
The panel will resume discussions and present their impressions and clarifications on Saturday. Sade will moderate this presentation.

Lectureship background
This annual lectureship is named for Thomas Antley Pitts II, M.D. (1893-1991), who served as an MUSC board member for 36 years, including 25 years as chairman. He left a substantial bequest to MUSC to endow a series of lectures on medical ethics. The series has been held annually since 1993.
For information or to register, visit or call 792-0775.


Friday, Oct. 2, 2009

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