The first book to explore the effects of dramatic changes in the delivery of medical care
The Gold Standard
The Challenge of Evidence-Based Medicine and Standardization in Health Care
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Stefan Timmermans and Marc Berg
Winner of the Robert Merton Professional Book Award from the Science, Knowledge, and Society section of the American Sociological Association, 2005
Few things make people react more strongly to the changes going on in health care than the word standardization. Critics shudder at the mindless sameness of standards, while supporters dream of a world in which standardized "best practices" open up a world of efficient health care delivery. The Gold Standard takes up this debate to investigate the real meaning of standardization and how it affects patients, doctors, and the institution of medicine.
Showing that standards are not about less or more skills, or more or less uniformity, but rather about a redefinition of autonomy, patients, and relationships, Timmermans and Berg show instead that they are about creating new worlds of medical treatment. Cutting through the hype and fears, the authors show where the true powers of standardization lie. The Gold Standard will become a classic for students of medicine and health care policy, and will be a welcome book for anyone concerned with the future of our system of care.
"The Gold Standard is an intelligent and well-written analysis of crucial developments in biomedical practice over the past century. Timmermans and Berg provide us with a comprehensive study of the growing movement to standardize biomedicine, calling attention to the risks and benefits for doctors and patients alike. This unique and important book should attract interest among medical sociologists, science studies scholars, bioethicists, health policy analysts, and all those who care about the practice of medicine today."
"This book sets the standard for the study of standardization in medicine. Focusing on evidence based medicine's meteoric rise and influence, Timmermans and Berg go beyond the professional rhetoric to examine its impact on the practice of medicine. Well-written and replete with sociological case studies, this book is must reading for social scientists, physicians and policy-makers."
"It is rare to find a book that can serve both as an excellent introduction to its subject for people who have not previously given it much thought or study and also as an advanced reading for people who know the subject area well. Happily, The Gold Standard is such a book."
"This eminently readable book is recommended to healthcare industry personnel and to policy makers who would be interested in a thoughtful study of the political, ethical, and functional aspects of the standardization of clinical behavior."
"[T]his is a surprising work...its scope places it in the realm of monumental works like Paul Starr's Pulitzer-Prize winning [book]. This book is highly recommended...especially to those grappling with the challenge of creating consistently high-quality health care at a cost our nation can afford."
"...a highly readable and comprehensive book.... I can recommend this book to everyone who is interested in the subject."
"This book is helpful to physicians and healthcare executives who need to have a better understanding of the evolution and application of evidence-based medicine."
"The Gold Standard provides a powerful argument that the scientific is inevitably social and that the meanings of the social in standardization, ironically, eschew being standardized. It is a timely and important contribution to the sociology of medicine and the study of professions."