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05/29/2009

Sometimes a Title Says It All: “Kass Backwards”

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The editors here at The American Journal of Bioethics have been none too kind to Leon Kass, but none have been quite as harsh as Scott McLemee from InsideHigherEd.com in his piece titled, “Kass Backwards”.

Below are a few choice excerpts from McLemee’s perspective piece on Kass’s NEH Jefferson lecture:

Kass invoked the “wisdom of repugnance” a few years before he joined an administration that treated the willingness to torture as a great moral virtue — meanwhile coddling bigots for whom rage at gay marriage was an appropriate response to “the violation of things we hold rightfully dear.”

Now, as it happens, some of us do indeed feel disgust at one of these practices, and not at the other.

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05/29/2009

Pucker Up!

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Ladies, how much risk of lead exposure would you be willing to undergo for ruby red lips? Is it even something to be concerned about? Well, it depends on who you ask. According to the NYT, a debate is ensuing at the FDA over lead suspected in tubes of women’s favorite shades of lip color.

A recent study found that 1/3rd of lipsticks had in excess of the acceptable limit of lead allowed for candy, raising the question of whether women puckering up is putting them at risk for lead exposure. Cosmetics companies blame only the reddest of red shades–many of which they no longer make–and now assure us that it’s safe to slather on the lip color.…

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05/28/2009

“Hidden Health Taxes” Neither Ethical Nor Sustainable

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It seems as though we don’t have much choice when it comes to health care. Either we are going to pay what the most recent research is calling a “hidden health tax” of something on the order of $1,017 per year to cover the health care costs of the uninsured, at least that’s what Families USA is telling us (says WSJ) or we can pony up the money through tacking on an additional tax on the goods we routinely buy through something like a Value Added Tax (VAT) like they do in Europe and ensure healthcare for all–no matter what.…

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05/27/2009

Will Your Tweets Keep You Healthy Or Make You Sick?

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Google has been tracking flu trends to monitor disease outbreaks for some time, but with the most recent outbreak of swine flu, social media has taken on a new role in the monitoring of health in our lives.

Not only did we, here at bioethics.net, decide to create pandemic.bioethics.net on Facebook, to keep people up-to-date about what was happening in the news about the swine flu pandemic, but countless other government agencies and private websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter sites popped up seemingly overnight to alert us about what was going on in the world with the dreaded swine flu.

As the WSJ put it today, “health data proves contagious on social media.”

But what is the goal?…

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05/27/2009

How Free Riding Can Get Your Child a Free Ride To the Emergency Room

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These days parents are often more afraid of the immunizations that their children are asked to take than of the diseases they are intended to prevent. These parents believe that their children will be protected from diseases like pertussis, measles or the mumps because of something called “herd immunity”–put simply, because everyone else’s child gets vaccinated it’s unlikely that a child near mine will get any one of these diseases and thus give it to my unvaccinated child. That way, I avoid having to expose my child either to the disease or the risky vaccine.

The most recent research, though, suggests that this logic may be tragically flawed and that these free riding parents who are trying to benefit from the rest of society’s vaccinated kids may in fact end up with sick kids after all.…

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05/26/2009

Dr. Hamburg, Divest Thyself

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One of the wealthiest of the Obama administration appointees, Dr. Margaret Hamburg, has to offload her stock pretty quickly–apparently that’s what comes from being married to a very successful hedge fund manager and holding a wide range of health and other medical related stock, says the Wall Street Journal. The new FDA chief is going to take a pretty significant pay cut–going from about $10 million per year to her yearly salary at FDA of $150,000.

Many of Dr. Hamburg’s stocks, as well as her husband’s, were inherited–but even those must go, including holdings in Johnson and Johnson, pharmaceutical benefits management company, Medco, and Merck.…

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05/22/2009

Caplan: Court has the Right to Insist on Chemo

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Art Caplan writes in his MSNBC column today that the courts have the right to intervene in a case where a highly curable cancer is being prevented by the refusal by parent and child to undergo treatment–regardless of the reason. Daniel’s age and developmental disabilities prevent him from giving informed consent and his mother’s actions border on, if are not actually child abuse.

To read more, keep reading below or click on this link to read the column at MSNBC.

Opinion: Court has the right to insist on chemo
Government should make sure kids with lethal but treatable ills get care

The case of Daniel Hauser, the 13-year-old boy who has a highly fatal form of cancer, took a sad turn this week.…

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05/22/2009

To Nap or Not to Nap–That is the Question

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A recent editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine, titled “”To Nap or Not to Nap”, suggests that the verdict is still out on the value of reducing the number of hours that medical residents work and its relationship between improved outcomes for patients, says the WSJ Health Blog.

Nevermind that it’s inhumane to have a medical resident working a 100+ work week and falling asleep over their patients or reading charts bleary eyed, but, according to this editorial at least, the data doesn’t show that patients have better health outcomes when residents work 80 hours a week or less as compared to when they work hundreds of hours.…

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05/21/2009

Chemo Teen and Mom on the Run–How It Could Have Been Prevented

By now, almost everyone in America has probably heard the story of Daniel Hauser and his fight to refuse chemotherapy for his Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The most recent wrinkle is that when it appeared that Daniel would be forced to get chemo, he and his mother skipped town, apparently now on their way to Mexico, to avoid enforcement of the court-ordered treatment.

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While on the face of it, this would appear to be a case of cultural sensitivity and respecting the religious views of the parents (and presumably the child) who does not want these toxic substances put in their son’s body.…

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05/20/2009

Have We Become Too Dependent On Our Medicine Cabinet?

Christian Science Monitor is asking an important question: “Have we become too dependent on our medicine cabinet?” Medical ethicists, physicians, and even patients and their advocates who are growing increasingly concerned about the reliance that Americans place upon their pharmaceuticals to make them well. My questions is: “What’s the real worry?”

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Debates about enhancement in genetics and sports and other fields have abounded for years, but when the enhancements are as convenient as popping one’s morning pills, the opportunity to better one’s self almost seems too easy. And with dramatic effects ranging from improved cognition and memory to enhancing sexual performance, it seems almost too good to pass up.…

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