No one wants to go back to the bad old days of medicine. Not only were treatment options limited, crude and often harmful, but doctors often failed to treat their patients as persons, and instead as objects of scientific inquiry and experimentation.
The same is true of the more recent past: think of the cruel medical experiments of Nazi doctors, or, closer to home, to the ghastly Tuskegee Syphilis Trial. ‘First do no harm’ has often been, and continues to be, flouted. Medicine is an ineluctably moral pursuit, for it involves interactions with persons. It needs to be thought of and through as such.