Center for Surgery and Public Health

Harvard Surgical HSR Speaker Series

Language in Surgical Ethics: An Alternate View

Justin Clapp, PhD, MPH

Assistant Professor, Anesthesiology & Critical Care, Medical Ethics & Health Policy, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

Associated Faculty, Anthropology, School of Arts and Sciences, University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Clapp is Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology & Critical Care and Medical Ethics & Health Policy and Associated Faculty in Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania.  He is a linguistic and medical anthropologist who combines qualitative methods with theory from the social sciences and philosophy to examine issues in medical ethics, healthcare communication, and health services.  Dr. Clapp used this approach to study medical decision making in surgery and intensive care, interprofessional communication in the ICU, clinical reasoning about enrolling patients in randomized trials, relations between IRBs and investigators, and efforts by biomedical scientists to engage communities about their work, among other topics.

Tuesday, September 26th

4:00-5:00 p.m. ET

Hybrid Webinar

BC-4118, 4th Floor, One Brigham Circle, 1620 Tremont Street, Boston, MA

Presented in Collaboration with the Division of Trauma, Burn, and Surgical Critical Care

Learning Objectives:

Upon completion of this activity, participants will be able to:

  • Characterize the assumptions about language and social interaction underlying theories of clinical decision making and informed consent in medical ethics and health services research.
  • Understand the basics of an alternative theory of language with roots in the philosophy of language and linguistic anthropology.
  • Identify the implications of this alternative view of language for reconceptualizing how clinicians, patients, and families make ‘decisions’ in surgical clinics and intensive care units.

Target Audience

This activity is intended for research faculty and trainees

Course Director

Zara Cooper, MD, MSc, FACS

Michele and Howard J. Kessler Distinguished Chair of Surgery and Public Health
Kessler Director, Center for Surgery and Public Health, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Director, Center for Geriatric Surgery, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School


In support of improving patient care, Mass General Brigham is jointly accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), to provide continuing education for the healthcare team.

Mass General Brigham designates this live activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.