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Author Archive: Neil Skjoldal

About Neil Skjoldal

09/12/2016

On Genetic Data

In case you’ve run out of things to worry about, Kayte Spector-Bagdady gives us another in a recent post entitled “Why you should worry about the privatization of genetic data.” Spector-Bagdady compares President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative with the work of the direct-to-consumer testing company, 23andMe.  Her concern is that “private companies don’t necessarily have to follow the same regulations regarding access to their data... // Read More »

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08/29/2016

Bioethics & Pharmaceutical Prices

Just last week a man walked into my office holding a vile of insulin.  He told me its cost and how much it has increased over time.  He expressed genuine fear that people would not be able to afford it much longer and that they would eventually die because of it. Later that day, I noticed that the Washington Post and other media outlets were... // Read More »

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08/15/2016

Christians and Physician Assisted Suicide

In my experience working with terminally ill patients over the past seven years, I have often seen people of the Christian faith go all out in the ICU, wanting “everything done” for a terminally ill loved one. In these circumstances, when I speak with family members of the patient, they tell me they will continue to pray for a miracle to happen. As a person... // Read More »

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08/01/2016

Is assisted suicide ethically permissible if it is rare?

A recent JAMA article (subscription needed) shares the findings of a study which considers the “Attitudes and Practices of Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide in the United States, Canada, and Europe.”  As California has become the most recent state to add an “assisted death” law to the books, it is important to consider how the practices of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are viewed in places that... // Read More »

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07/04/2016

On the “Moral Era” of Medicine

A colleague shared a recent JAMA article titled “Era 3 for Medicine and Health Care.” The author, Dr. Don Berwick, quickly surveys Era 1 — the “era of professional dominance”– and Era 2 — the “era of accountability and market theory”– before introducing what he hopes to see in “Era 3,” the “moral era.” Berwick identifies nine changes that need to take place in order to... // Read More »

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06/21/2016

Organ Harvesting in China

On June 13, 2016 the House of Representatives passed HR 343, “Expressing concern regarding persistent and credible reports of systematic, state-sanctioned organ harvesting from non-consenting prisoners of conscience in the People’s Republic of China, including from large numbers of Falun Gong practitioners and members of other religious and ethnic minority groups.” )  In part, the bill “calls on the United States Department of State to... // Read More »

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06/06/2016

An Olympic-Sized Decision

Every four years, the nations of the world come together to celebrate sport and sportsmanship in the Olympic games.  The beauty and pageantry of the Olympics make it a quadrennial spectacle that is viewed by billions of people around the world.  Little-known sports gain international attention for a few days and unknown athletes burst into our living rooms with demonstrations of strength, speed, and endurance. ... // Read More »

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05/23/2016

Brain Cancer Awareness Month

Watching “60 Minutes” last week reminded me of why I pursued a degree in bioethics. The segment was on Duke University’s experimental treatment of glioblastoma patients and its surprising success treating this deadly cancer. There is a cautious optimism associated with this new treatment, which was granted “breakthrough status” by the FDA earlier this month. Immediately I was thrown back to 2010 when my wife’s... // Read More »

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04/25/2016

A brief thought on rising suicide rates

A recent article in The Washington Post describes a very disturbing trend: “The U.S. suicide rate has increased sharply since the turn of the century, led by an even greater rise among middle-aged white people, particularly, women, according to federal data released Friday [April 22]” The article offers some suggestions as to why things have been so grim: last decade’s severe recession, drug addiction, social isolation,... // Read More »

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04/11/2016

A day at a bioethics conference

In my life as hospital chaplain, I have observed that bioethics often entails conflict resolution—usually around end-of-life issues. In these situations, the ethics consultant is called upon to consider difficult treatment possibilities and related factors (emotional, spiritual, personal, etc), and then to make recommendations to the medical team. But I have come to learn that the field of bioethics is much broader than conflict resolution... // Read More »

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