Ethics

Pure Pedantry

Category archives for Ethics

Nature Clinical Practice Neurology has a salient article on ethics and medicine. The article asks the question: is it ethical to confront an individual with whom you do not have an official doctor-patient relationship, if you think they have a medical problem? Should you or should you not tell them if you see a medical…

The NYTimes has a fascinating article about MIT professors — developmental psychologists mostly — who use their own children’s development as data in their research. Though in nearly all cases, they are studying normal child development and not doing any of potentially harmful intervention, this presents difficult ethical issues because of the dual roles as…

PhRMA — the association of pharmaceutical companies — has agreed to a voluntary moratorium on drug paraphernalia given to doctors: Starting Jan. 1, the pharmaceutical industry has agreed to a voluntary moratorium on the kind of branded goodies — Viagra pens, Zoloft soap dispensers, Lipitor mugs — that were meant to foster good will and,…

The Ethics of Using Placebos

A survey of American internists and rheumatologists has revealed that over 50% of them regularly prescribe placebos. Tilburt et al. surveyed internists and rheumatologists to see whether they were prescribing placebos, and if so how and what kind they were using. The study, published in BMJ, found the following: 679 physicians (57%) responded to the…

Being a Doctor and the Moral Sense

Philosopher Eric Schwitzgebel and psychologist Fiery Cushman have designed a moral sense test. The test poses scenarios and asks you to evaluate the relative morality or immorality of different actions. The purpose of the test for the researchers is to compare the responses between philosophers and non-philosophers to various ethical questions. (I imagine that the…

The Problem of Expertise

I have been thinking a lot lately about the problem of expertise. By the problem of expertise, I mean how people who know better should relate to those who don’t. Whether you are a physician or a physicist, this issue comes up a lot. People want the opinions of educated people — pundits of various…

MarkH, SciBling at denialism blog and fellow MD-PhD student, takes issue with my post about a move to ban “poaching” of doctors from African countries. I can’t say I am entirely surprised, since I knew that post would be controversial. I want to respond to his — in my opinion very substantive — criticisms. (You…

Unbelievable. Unbelievable is simply the only word that can describe this article in the Lancet. Citing problems with retention of doctors in under-treated populations in Africa, Mills et al. argue that direct recruitment of doctors by groups in the West should be criminalized and the individuals perpetrating it prosecuted in the International Criminal Court.

Absolutism vs. Relativism in Abortion

The NYTimes published two articles about abortion in the last couple days. The first was a review by William Saletan of the book Embryo, A Defense of Human Life by Robert P. George and Christopher Tollefsen. The second was an article about the science of trying to detect pain in infants and possibly fetuses as…

DeSoto and Hitlan Revisted

About a month ago, I posted about a paper in Child Neurology that was correcting a previous paper that looked at the relationship between mercury and autism. The original paper, Ip et al. 2004, was a case control study that compared the levels of mercury in hair samples from children with autism as opposed to…