Blog Posts (32)
February 21, 2017
By Brenda Curtis, Ph.D. Social media platforms continue to improve and refine their privacy settings as the demand for advanced user protections increases. Although enabling catered privacy settings to online profiles allows users to indicate who they would like share personal information with, it does not necessarily protect them from the platforms – i.e. websites … More User Beware: Privacy Settings just a Facade
February 18, 2017
The default mode of our technologically advanced medicine is to use our technology. Nowhere is this more true than close to the end of life. And our technology is really impressive; with it, we can keep chests going up and down and hearts beating for a long, long time. The troubling thing is that there are many people who would rather not have lots of... // Read More »
February 17, 2017
Politics Trump Ethics Monitor: Has The President Kept His Promises? To track Trump’s ethics-related promises, NPR checked debate transcripts, campaign speeches and press conferences Trump’s South Florida estate raises ethics questions Ethics questions and possible conflicts surrounding President Donald Trump’s frequent trips to his sprawling Mar-a-Lago property, especially in regards to the invitation of Japanese Prime … More Ethics & Society Newsfeed: February 17, 2017
November 30, 2016
A company named AirXpanders is in
the process of developing a medical device that will give women a sense
of control over breast reconstruction surgery. The name of the product is AeroForm and it is currently under
review by the FDA. It
is approved in Europe and sold in Australia. AeroForm is currently in clinical trials.
Using an implant is the current
standard of care for breast reconstruction. In order for an implant to achieve its
designed purpose, space must be made in the breast tissue. Before AeroForm, this space was achieved
through multiple visits to the doctor’s office using a saline injection. It was
a painful process for some women and could take months. AeroForm is a wireless,
needle-free tissue expansion device. A
device is surgically inserted into the breast that will deliver small amounts
of CO2 gas to expand the tissue as the saline used to do. The release of the
gas is controlled through an internal valve signaled by a wireless dose
controller operated by the patient. The patient can release the gas at her/his
own rate to make it less painful and can be done at home. It also can speed up the process from months
to weeks. The device is more expensive than saline injections but it reduces
the numbers of physician’s visits, so cost is comparable.
process of restoring something so intimate may be embarrassing as well as
medicalizing part of one’s identity. This
device may be a way to restore lost confidence for breast cancer
survivors. Losing one’s breast can be
damaging to one’s identity. We as a society equate breasts with feminine
identity. Without breasts, according to society, a woman becomes less desirable
or less feminine. A primary goal of reconstructive surgery is to restore the
bodily image of what is socially accepted, but also what the patient wants
personally. Positive body image is an important part of self-identity and
confidence and positive body image connects to what is socially accepted.
Although this device is arguably reinforcing the social norm that women need to
have breasts, this device is ultimately restoring confidence and identity. Allowing
women to have a role in this medical process allows for restoring some of that
lost privacy and identity in an already emotional experience. This restored
control can also have a psychological effect on the patient during recovery. In
a sense, this device is following the trend of our society to favor patient
autonomy and increasing patient involvement in healthcare.
when is patient control too much? Physicians may still remain cautious with
devices such as these because it is moving treatment away from the known,
controlled setting of the physician’s office to the patient’s home. This is the
balance between respecting patient autonomy and beneficence. The downside of
using this device at home is if there are any issues during the gas release, a
physician will not be there immediately. Some may argue that care outside a
physician’s office is not beneficial but there are also a lot of benefits to
self-administration of care like this case. This device is only a small part of
the entire reconstructive process. But society should still keep in the back of
its mind that physicians still have a very relevant role to play in health care
decisions, no matter the location of treatment.
November 21, 2016
The tenth and final episode of the Bioethics Commission’s podcast series, Ethically Sound, is now available. Today’s episode, “Charting a Path Forward,” focuses on the Bioethics Commission’s two most recent public meetings, during which the Bioethics Commission reflected on the impact of past, present, and future of national bioethics advisory bodies.
November 7, 2016
As social media has surged
in our society, how we interact with people has shifted. Some of us spend
more time texting and emailing than talking to a human face. This may be
especially true for those who have an office job. We as a society have
expressed concern about the possible health effects from increased screen
exposure, such as the impact computer screens have on vision and memory. We also have expressed concern
about how screen exposure will affect childhood development, particularly
social interactions. So what affect has this increased screen exposure caused
on how we console another for the loss of a loved one?
Consoling is a skill that
clinical ethicists learn quickly as many consults is related to end-of-life
issues. It is as simple as offering a tissue for a grieving family member but
more than simply saying “I am sorry for your loss.” It is an ability to
read another human’s grief. Consoling is arguably a fundamental component
to our society as loss is a natural part of the human process. Consoling
is a way of experiencing the grieving process and accepting loss.
A recent New York Times article gave us some
advice on how to console those who have experienced death. The article
gave seven points of advice, one of which was “Facebook is not enough.”
It made the point that a message or post via Facebook is a great first gesture
but that one should follow up with something more such as a condolence card or
attending the funeral. What is interesting about this advice is that it
acknowledges that social interaction through social media is not the same as
social interaction in person. This may seem like an obvious statement to some,
but our increasing use of social media for basic human interactions may suggest
this is not as obvious of a statement.
One advantage for social media is the ability to
remain connected to more people than previously. However, this is a
double-edged sword, as the more people we become connected to the less
connected we become to people. It becomes quantity of connections over
quality of connections. When Facebook first opened to the public, there
was a movement to see how “friends” one could have. But how many of those were
truly friends? How many of those individuals would you have even sent a message
saying, “I am sorry for your loss”? As more and more of us send more of our
social interactions through a screen, it will be interesting to see how our
ability to console another changes.
The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers a Master of Science in Bioethics, a Doctorate of Professional Studies in Bioethics, and Graduate Certificates in Clinical Ethics and Clinical Ethics Consultation. For more information on AMBI's online graduate programs, please visit our website.
October 17, 2016
The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues bioethics_twitter-v3-08(Bioethics Commission) has
released the sixth episode, "New Directions", in its new
podcast series Ethically Sound. This podcast series is dedicated to bringing the Bioethics Commission’s body of work to a broad audience. The Bioethics Commission, established in 2009 by President Bara
ck Obama, has produced 10 reports, each of which focuses on key ethical considerations surrounding a particular topic. Today’s episode is based on the Bioethics Commission’s first report, New Directions: The Ethics of Synthetic Biology and Emerging Technologies.
September 14, 2016
Millions of people use websites like WebMD every day to gain insight on a range of medical issues from cancer to mental health. This practice, or “cyberchondria,” is a new digital phenomenon that has resulted from online databases of free, … Continue reading →
August 5, 2016
Last week, JAMA published online a Viewpoint provocatively titled, “What Happens When Underperforming Big Ideas in Research Become Entrenched?” The overarching Big Idea to which the article refers is the “narrative positing that a combination of ever-deeper knowledge of subcellular biology, especially genetics, coupled with information technology will lead to transformative improvements in health care and human health.” The article highlights three technologies that are... // Read More »
August 3, 2016
The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission) has released a new series of primers on spotting and responding to science hype in the media. The three primers cover hype related to topics in new technology, public health and neuroscience.
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April 25, 2013 2:50 pm
Some 7,000 light years away, Einstein’s theory of general relativity has stood up to its most intense test yet, scientists said on Thursday.
April 25, 2013 1:00 pm
Scientists used a 3D printer loaded with cells to create mini livers which can be infected with a disease to observe its progress through organ. The tiny livers can also be used to monitor effectiveness of drugs.
April 4, 2013 3:27 pm
There’s a new way to create materials with the properties of living tissues. Oxford University scientists have designed a programmable 3-D printer than can pump out a material that can flex like muscle or communicate like neurons.
February 8, 2013 12:32 pm
Publishing house Macmillan on Friday became the fifth and final U.S. book publisher to sign a settlement with the government in a sweeping antitrust case that accused them of conspiring to raise e-book prices.
February 8, 2013 12:28 pm
After running 1,000 computers non-stop for 39 days to uncover the world’s largest prime number yet, a Missouri college professor said this week he is starting all over to top his own record.
January 28, 2013 1:31 pm
The first soldier to survive after losing all four limbs in the Iraq war has received a double-arm transplant. He also received bone marrow from the same dead donor who supplied his new arms. That novel approach is aimed at helping his body accept the new limbs with minimal medication to prevent rejection.
January 25, 2013 1:31 pm
It may be decades before machines take the place of doctors — yes, it’s possible — but Bedford-based iRobot has won federal approval for a rolling robot that can now connect physicians with patients anywhere in the world.
January 10, 2013 1:06 pm
When the knee’s vital cartilage erodes or tears, there isn’t much that doctors can do to save it. Researchers are exploring a new kind of hydrogel that may lead to more optimistic odds of recovery.
December 31, 2012 12:04 pm
2012 is almost over and it’s time take a look back at the top space stories of the past year. We’ll find out what happened in the weeks and months after the news broke.
December 17, 2012 6:00 pm
Jan Scheuermann, who is 53 and paralysed from the neck down, was able to deftly grasp and move a variety of objects just like a normal arm. Brain implants were used to control the robotic arm, in the study reported in the Lancet medical journal.
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