Tag: technology

Blog Posts (34)

March 10, 2017

Ethics & Society Newsfeed: March 10, 2017

Politics White House Slammed by Federal Ethics Chief for Not Disciplining Kellyanne Conway U.S. government’s official ethics watchdog blasted White House for not taking disciplinary action against senior counselor Kellyanne Conway for promoting Ivanka Trump’s products on TV Trump’s Ethics Order Seen as Boost for Shadow Lobbying President Trump’s speech to the joint session of Congress … More Ethics & Society Newsfeed: March 10, 2017
March 1, 2017

The Gift of Finitude

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about finitude. About limits. Incompleteness. Even failure. Like the friend of a friend who is dying and has just been admitted to hospice, whose young teenaged daughter is facing the prospect of a life without her mother. Like the colleague who is grieving the loss of both a spouse and a parent within a month of each other. Like... // Read More »
February 21, 2017

User Beware: Privacy Settings just a Facade

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

Advance Care Planning and its Detractors

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

Ethics & Society Newsfeed: 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

Handing over the Control in Breast Reconstruction Surgery

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. 

The 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.

But 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

Ethically Sound Episode 10: Charting a Path Forward

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

Offering Condolence in the Modern Era

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.

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

Ethically Sound Episode 6: New Directions

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

Fordham’s Dr. Elizabeth Yuko Address Ethics of Web Self-Diagnoses

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

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News (18)

April 25, 2013 2:50 pm

Einstein's theory holds up in deep space

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

Amazing 'mini livers' created with 3D PRINTER could lead to human-sized organs for transplant patients

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

Custom 3-D Printer Pumps Out Synthetic Tissues Made of Tiny Droplets

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

U.S. settles with publisher Macmillan in e-books case (Reuters)

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

U.S. professor finds longest prime number with 17,425,170 digits (Reuters)

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

1st soldier to survive losing all limbs in Iraq war gets double-arm transplant in Baltimore (Washington Post)

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

Robodoc gets OK for hospitals (Boston Hearld)

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

Healing Knees With Light-Activated Gel (Popular Mechanics)

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

The Countdown, Episode 12 – Top 5 Space Stories of 2012! (Scientific American)

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

Paralysed woman's thoughts control robotic arm (BBC News)

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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