Tag: bioethics

Blog Posts (142)

November 21, 2014

Resident physicians as the key to Do Not Resuscitate orders

At last month’s ASCO Palliative Care conference in Boston, one of the presentations was a survey, done by resident physicians (doctors 1-3 years out of medical school, doing hospital-based, post graduate training) at Tufts Medical Center.  The topic: what their fellow residents thought about conducting conversations with patients about Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders. Some background:  most of the time, these conversations would arise in... // Read More »
November 16, 2014

The Importance of Ethical Standards

This week, banking regulators announced fines totaling over $4 billion against six banks from around the world, including Switzerland’s UBS and the USA’s JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America.  Some weren’t ready for a deal: London-based Barclays Plc., which had been in settlement talks, said it wasn’t ready for a deal. This seemed a little like déjà vu to me, since I was living in... // Read More »
November 14, 2014

Is it right to compel hospital staff to care for patients with Ebola?

Is it right for hospitals to compel their staff to care for patients with Ebola?   In response to the Ebola epidemic in Africa, hospitals here are preparing for the low-probability but high-risk prospect of caring for patients with Ebola. There are at least two different approaches hospitals are taking. Some hospitals are assembling a team of personnel who volunteer to care for any patients... // Read More »
November 13, 2014

Three Items About Human Research Ethics

Much of the day-to-day of bioethics involves specific decisions about the ethics of human subject research.  This week brings three items—ranging from a standard “bread and butter” issue that is particularly topical, on the one hand, to the incredibly bureaucratic and arcane on the other. The “bread and butter” issue is, under what circumstances is it ethical to use a placebo in clinical research?  The... // Read More »
November 11, 2014

Dying and Dignity

On November 1st, Brittany Maynard, a 29 year-old Oregonian with an incurable brain tumor, took her own life using a medication prescribed by a physician specifically for this purpose. The medication, legal under the Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act, was prescribed weeks earlier. The case is well-known because Brittany became a spokesperson for efforts to expand “assisted suicide” laws to other states. Through her own... // Read More »
November 7, 2014

Embodying a right to health care

In a residency applicant’s personal statement, I came across this sentence about a doctor working among impoverished rural people: “His presence embodies their equal right to health care.” Equal right to health care. When speaking about rights, I always hear that one person’s positive right implies an obligation on somebody else’s part to provide something. For instance, one person’s right to health care implies that somebody... // Read More »
November 6, 2014

On Testimonial and Argument in Bioethics

We all know, as Steve Phillips reminded us yesterday, that Brittany Maynard took the pills this past Sunday, one day later than she had originally planned.  In the days before that, she appealed to our compassion for her in her suffering—and powerfully at that.  Equally powerful were stories from the likes of Kara Tippetts and, as Steve pointed out, Maggie Karner, two women with terminal... // Read More »
November 5, 2014

Physician assisted suicide on YouTube

Physician assisted suicide (PAS) is in the news in a way that is different than before. It is not because it is election time and a state has a ballot initiative about legalizing PAS. It is because a 29 year old woman with an aggressive malignant brain tumor, Brittany Maynard, has chosen to use PAS to end her life and chosen to do it very... // Read More »
November 2, 2014

Spiritual Matters and Bioethics

Halloween has come and gone, and as is typical in recent American history, it was a big deal and big business.  My town hosted a city-wide event last weekend, so a drive near the courthouse square was marked by all sorts of goblins wandering the streets (and packing the McDonald’s). This past week’s episode of Sleepy Hollow on FOX featured police officers helping a young... // Read More »
October 30, 2014

Nobility and nihilism in palliative care

Last weekend, I attended the inaugural Palliative Care conference for the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).  Fifty years into ASCO’s existence, it now takes the formal position that good cancer medicine means integrating palliative care—addressing symptoms and “whole person” aspects of medical care—throughout the treatment of a person’s cancer, not just at the end of life.  And there has been a move to establish... // Read More »