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Author Archive: Craig Klugman


Where’s the Social Justice?

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

Picking up a newspaper or clicking to your favorite news site could lead one to believe that the U.S. is entering a civil war along racial divides. For 6 days in a row in Chicago, protestors have marched against police brutality—specifically police shooting young, black men. Then a former soldier tried to kill white cops in Dallas. And a shooting inside of a gay club in Orlando takes many LGBT and allies lives. The news media has drawn this debate as a racial one—cops targeting minorities; minorities targeting minorities; and the disaffected targeting law and order. At the heart of all this violence is social injustice—poverty, stigmatization, and a growing acceptability of uncivil discourse.…

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BioethicsTV: The Night Shift Needs More Sleep

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

Summer is a slow time for television and especially for the medical drama. One show that has been filling this warm weather slot is The Night Shift, a fairly uninteresting and poorly done drama. Frankly, I only started watching it because of its setting in a fictitious hospital in my former home of San Antonio. However, this week’s episode (Season 3, Episode 5: Get Busy Livin’) raised several ethical issues and resolved them poorly.

First, a patient is in the final stages of cancer. She has accepted her death and even has plans for one final vacation, but she runs into a physician who is not willing to let her go.…

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Dear Professional Organizations…It’s Not Me, It’s You

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

Dear Professional Organizations,

Being an active member of my profession is important for both my personal mission and my professional career. I enjoy coming to your meetings and finding myself among those who speak my scholarly language. At such gatherings I learn about new ideas, network with current, former and potentially new collaborators, and sometimes (when looking) find out about new opportunities for jobs, funding, and publishing. And yes, my university expects me to attend these events in order to share my work, to network, and to help with increasing the visibility and reputation of the institution.…

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This entry was posted in Featured Posts, Institutions, Centers, Funding and tagged , , . Posted by Craig Klugman. Bookmark the permalink.


BioethicsTV: Grace and Frankie Kill Their Friend

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

The Netflix series Grace and Frankie ended its second season with an end-of-life dilemma. The show has been hailed for its portrayal of active, interesting, and vibrant older characters and its embracing of families of all sizes, types, and colors.

Episode 11 introduces Babe, Frankie’s best friend and a free spirit who has spent her life traveling the world and collecting people. We learn that she lived life to its fullest and never shied away from a chance for adventure. Then we learn that she has metastatic stage 4 cancer. Having gone into remission from a previous cancer, Babe has decided that she has wrung every last drop out of life and rather than go through the pain of treatment or the agony of a slow death, she wants a party.…

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This entry was posted in End of Life Care, Featured Posts, Media and tagged , , . Posted by Craig Klugman. Bookmark the permalink.


Deliberating Over Ending Two Species When We Are Bringing Tens of Thousands to the Brink of Extinction

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

One of the first news articles I ever wrote in journalism was as an intern at Stanford Magazine. This piece was on research into a human vaccine that would do nothing for us, but would kill any mosquito who happened to bite an inoculated person. The researcher’s ethical question at the time was whether anyone would consent to getting a vaccine that does nothing for her or his personal health.

Twenty-five years later, and this month Smithsonian Magazine published an article on CRISPR-9 gene-editing techniques that will allow for the eradication of mosquitoes.  A group of scientists introduced a mutation into female mosquitoes that caused infertility—the mutation spread to 75 percent of that specific mosquito specie’s population.…

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This entry was posted in Environmental Ethics, Featured Posts, Genetics, Public Health and tagged , . Posted by Craig Klugman. Bookmark the permalink.


Why America Needs Bioethics Right Now

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

From the title, you probably assumed I’m going to talk about the fast changing pace of medical technology, whether we should be working on human embryos, claims that scientists will be able to do head transplants within 2 years, or even whether the Olympics should be postponed because of Zika. This blog has also paid attention to some of the orphan issues of bioethics: public health, social justice, health disparities, climate change and medicine in war, torture and guns. My interest today, though, is not on the content of bioethics, but rather on its methods of discourse.…

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This entry was posted in Clinical Ethics, Featured Posts, Politics and tagged . Posted by Craig Klugman. Bookmark the permalink.


Few Patients Understand Their Cancer: Time to Change Our Approach

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

I have a slide that I use when teaching my students about clinical ethics: “80% of ethics consults are about communication.” The only evidence base I have for this statement is a 2005 Norwegian study with a very small subject pool. A more recent study identified communication issues in 45-51% of all cases.  Thus, I was not surprised to see an ABC News piece earlier this week, “Just 5% of Terminally Ill Cancer Patients Fully Understand Prognosis, Study Finds.”  

Of course that turns out not to be the whole story. In pre-intervention interviews with patients, only 5% of oncology patients could correctly answer four questions about their illness: Recognizing the disease was incurable, knowing the “advanced stage of their disease,” acknowledging a short life expectancy, and acknowledging they have a terminal illness.…

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BioethicsTV: Week of May 20 – Assisted suicide, public health crisis management, and making promises

Chicago Med
In its first season finale (episode 18), Dr. Downey arrives in the emergency department in distress—he is bleeding from his liver as a side effect from his cancer treatment. When he does not awake from the anesthesia, Dr. Rhodes, his protégé, suspects a stroke during surgery. A CT scan shows that Downey did not have a stroke, but rather has a large, inoperable brain tumor—his cancer has metastasized. We are told that his future prognosis is grim and that he is in unrelievable pain. Instead, he asks Rhodes to help him die. This request is a reference back to episode 11 when Rhodes removed a patient’s LVAD at the patient’s request and Choi accuses him of performing an assisted suicide.…

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BioethicsTV: Paternalism (again) on Chicago Med

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

Our favorite television dramas this week were light on bioethics issues with the exception of Chicago Med (season 1; episode 17 “Withdrawal”) that continues to explore bioethical issues. This week the theme was arrogant paternalism—residents and fellows believing that only they know what is in the best interest of the patient.

The first storyline concerns a patient brought into the ED in the throes of alcohol withdrawal. He is a frequent flyer patient and has not had a drink in 2 days. Dr. Halstead (resident) believes that what is best for the patient is to help him through withdrawal so he can quit drinking and enter recovery.…

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This entry was posted in Featured Posts, Informed Consent, Media and tagged , , , . Posted by Craig Klugman. Bookmark the permalink.


Euthanasia for Reasons of Mental Health

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

An article in the (UK) Daily Mail this week focused on a Dutch woman who chose euthanasia “after doctors decided her post-traumatic stress and other conditions were incurable.” Under Dutch euthanasia laws, a physician can end a patient’s life with a lethal injection for mental suffering. Her life was ended last year.

Euthanasia is when a physician delivers the substance that ends a patient’s life. This is distinct from physician/doctor/provider-assisted suicide (often called aid-in-dying) where a physician makes the means to end life available (often through a prescription) but the patient must ingest the life-ending medication.…

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