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PBS EXAMINES THE COSTS OF MEDICAL ‘MIRACLES’

Progress always comes at a price. A new 10-part series on the Public Broadcasting Service seeks to assess what that price has been in the area of health care.

“More and more, we were hearing from doctors who said, ‘We have miracles we can’t manage,’ ” said Fred Friendly, the former president of CBS News who serves as host and commentator on the series.

Hence its title: “Managing Our Miracles.” It debuts today at 10 p.m. on Channels 28 and 15 and also will be seen Fridays at 10 p.m. on Channels 50 and 24.

The series was taped earlier this year at Philadelphia’s College of Physicians, the country’s oldest medical institution, as part of Columbia University’s Media and Society seminar programs, which Friendly has administered for the last 13 years.

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The series follows the model familiar to viewers of other Media and Society seminars, such as one aired on PBS last year that dealt with the media and the military.

In the case of the medical series, prominent legal scholars lead medical experts, legislators, jurists, journalists and members of special interest groups in Socratic discussions of such subjects as doctor/patient relationships, organ transplants, prenatal technology, malpractice and AIDS.

In all cases, the subjects are viewed in terms of medical advances, including the moral and ethical questions that they raise.

“Our job is to make the agony of decision-making so intense you can escape only by thinking,” Friendly said.

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“We live in a time when many people think there is a right answer to every question, but there are no simple answers--even when it comes to knowing how to talk with your family physician,” he said.


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