Friday, March 11, 2016

Two Solomon Center Visiting Faculty Release New Books

Dr. Joseph J. Fins, the Solomon Center Distinguished Scholar in Medicine, Bioethics, and the Law, has published a book titled Rights Come to Mind: Brain Injury, Ethics, and the Struggle for Consciousness. Through the sobering story of Maggie Worthen, and her mother, Nancy, this book tells of one family's struggle with severe brain injury and how developments in neuroscience call for a reconsideration of what society owes patients at the edge of consciousness. Drawing upon more than 50 in-depth family interviews, the history of severe brain injury from Quinlan to Schiavo, and his participation in landmark clinical trials, such as the first use of deep brain stimulation in the minimally conscious state, Fins captures the paradox of medical and societal neglect even as advances in neuroscience suggest new ways to mend the broken brain. Responding to the dire care provided to these marginalized patients, after heroically being saved, Fins places society's obligations to patients with severe injury within the historical legacy of the civil and disability rights movements, offering a stirring synthesis of public policy and physician advocacy. Fins has continued this work while at Yale Law School by working with Center Fellow and Lecturer Michael Ulrich, as well as a group of students to further analyze the legal framework impacting access to services for those suffering from traumatic brain injuries. In the last year and a half the group has already gotten three manuscripts accepted for publication, and is in the process of completing and submitting at least two other articles. Fins’s book can be found on Amazon.

Dr. Aaron Kesselheim, Visiting Assistant Professor of Law and Solomon Center Distinguished Visitor at Yale Law School, was co-editor, along with Christopher Robertson, of the book Blinding as a Solution to Bias: Strengthening Biomedical Science, Forensic Science, and Law. The potential for bias in decision-making by physicians, lawyers, politicians, and scientists has been recognized for hundreds of years and drawn attention from media and scholars seeking to understand the role that conflicts of interests and other psychological processes play. However, commonly proposed solutions to biased decision-making, such as transparency (disclosing conflicts) or exclusion (avoiding conflicts) do not directly solve the underlying problem of bias and may have unintended consequences. Kesselheim and Robertson bring together a renowned group of interdisciplinary scholars to consider another way to reduce the risk of biased decision-making: blinding. What are the advantages and limitations of blinding? How can we quantify the biases in unblinded research? Can we develop new ways to blind decision-makers? What are the ethical problems with withholding information from decision-makers in the course of blinding? How can blinding be adapted to legal and scientific procedures and in institutions not previously open to this approach? Fundamentally, these sorts of questions—about who needs to know what—open new doors of inquiry for the design of scientific research studies, regulatory institutions, and courts. The volume surveys the theory, practice, and future of blinding, drawing upon leading authors with a diverse range of methodologies and areas of expertise, including forensic sciences, medicine, law, philosophy, economics, psychology, sociology, and statistics. The book is available on Amazon