The changes that have taken place in medicine over the past few decades
have challenged our views about the responsibilities and obligations of
those providing health care and about their relationships with their
patients. The demands brought by technologic advances and economic concerns
have tested our ability to practice humane, empathic, and ethical medicine.
This paper addresses the connection between ethics and empathy in the
context of our current health care system. The author reviews the concept
of empathy and argues that ethical medicine is empathic medicine. Since
gender differences in health care needs and disparities in treatment have
been identified, gender serves to focus some of the issues and exemplify
some concerns about empathic and ethical practice.