Medical ethics

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Category archives for Medical ethics

I was a bit torn when trying to figure out how to approach this piece.  A reader emailed me about an article in the Huffington Post, and there is so much wrong with it that I felt overwhelmed.  My solution is to focus on a few of the problems that can help illuminate broader points.…

In the Soviet Union, party membership was everything. Your job, your access to food and other consumer goods, and your apartment all depended on your standing with the party. And votes were simply a tool to provide a patina of legitimacy. No one who liked warm weather voted against the Party. One of the many…

Crowd-sourcing your medical care

The work up of “fever of unknown origin” (FUO) is a classic exercise in internal medicine. Originally defined as a temperature greater than 38.3°C (101°F) on several occasions for more than three weeks with no diagnosis after one week of inpatient study, the definition has shifted. This reflects the dramatic increase in the sophistication of…

More on Lacks ethics

I’m heartened by the discussions of medical ethics arising out of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. From reading and listening to interviews with writer Rebecca Skloot, and from my brief conversations with her, I know that medical ethics were very much on her mind during the ten years it took her to create the…

Narcotic contracts: informed consent?

Treating patients with narcotic analgesics is not simple. Narcotics can be very effective at relieving pain, but they come with a whole set of problems, including risk of adverse effects such as nausea, constipation, and altered mental status; overdose; and dependence. As I’ve written before, narcotic-dependent patients can be a challenge to treat. One of…

This is a special shout out to the doctors and scientists out there. Everything we do in our fields has repercussions, often unexpected ones. Because of this, we strive to practice ethically to help prevent or minimize negative repercussions. This discussion comes up specifically as an epiphenomenon of the release of The Immortal Life of…

The Line

There has been much written about the doctor-patient relationship, and specifically how to best maintain a clinical distance while at the same time being empathic and compassionate. This is something individual doctors work on throughout their careers, but something else interests me here. Most physicians derive enjoyment from helping people. Altruism (a topic way too…

Online professionalism at #Scio10

Next week, Val Jones and I are leading a discussion of professional ethics as they intersect with a professional’s online life. Each profession has its own set of ethics and draws its own lines but medicine is what I know best. I’d like to invite participants (or anyone, actually) to proffer ethical dilemmas related to…

Cruel and unusual

No matter how you feel about incarceration, it’s a dangerous business. Inmates have high rates of serious transmissible diseases which aren’t turned into the warden when they are released. Around 2.5 million people are held in American correctional facilities. HIV rates for imprisoned men 1.6% and for women is 2.4% (compared to about 0.4% among…

What is “health care”?

In his latest comment, Philip H has accelerated my reluctant discussion of health care reform. In fact, it was Philip who bullied me into writing about this topic in the first place. I’ve been avoiding wading into this mess, but being on the front line, it’s in my face every day. What he says in…