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Luring Medical Tourists for Cash Is a Trip Down the Slippery Slope

April 11, 2014

(The Globe and Mail) – So it looks like the ‘magic bullet’ solution has been found at last to cure Canada’s health care woes: medical tourism. Last week, Toronto’s Sunnybrook hospital defended its position to court affluent medical patients from other countries who can afford to pay generously for out-of-pocket care in a Canadian hospital. It’s a revenue-generating solution for a cash-strapped system, we are told. A handful of other hospitals already engage in this practice, and many across the country are starting to sit up and take notice. Should we break out the champagne and celebrate?

Deconstructing Dignity: A Critique of the Right-to-Die Debate, by Scott Cutler Shershow

April 11, 2014

(The Times Higher Education) – This is a highly topical book, in view of the intense debates taking place in many countries about the possible legalisation of assisted suicide and euthanasia (for example in Canada and France) or the modification of existing laws (for example in Belgium, where the euthanasia law was recently extended to minors). However, its title is slightly misleading: although Scott Cutler Shershow devotes a lot of attention to suicide, this analysis is insufficiently used as a starting point for discussing assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia. The discussion on euthanasia is limited to involuntary euthanasia as practised, for example, by the Nazis.

Event: 21st Annual Summer Conference: Bioethics in Transition

April 11, 2014

The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity
Bioethics in Transition
Trinity International University
Deerfield, Illinois
June 19 – 21, 2014

See here for more information.

Event: Islamic Bioethics and End-of-Life Care: A Practical Workshop

April 11, 2014

The Initiative on Islam and Medicine, TAQUA Academy, and The MacLean Center for Medical Ethics at the University of Chicago
Islamic Bioethics Workshop
TAQUA Academy
Plano, Texas
Saturday, May 17 9AM to 2PM

See here for more information.

A New Edition of Clinical Ethics is Available

April 11, 2014

Clinical Ethics (Volume 9, No. 1, March 2014) is now available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Can informed consent apply to information disclosure? Moral and practical implications” by Jacques Tamin
  • “A principlist approach to presumed consent for organ donation” by Hannah Welbourn
  • “Imperfect informed consent for prenatal screening: Lessons from the Quad screen” by ML Constantine, et al.
  • “Informal ethics consultations in academic health care settings: A quantitative description and a qualitative analysis with a focus on patient participation” by Abraham Rudnick, et al.
  • “The impact of an ethics training programme on the success of clinical ethics services” Andrea Dörries, et al.
  • “Staffs’ perceptions of the ethical landscape in psychiatric inpatient care: A qualitative content analysis of ethical diaries” by Veikko Pelto-Piri, Karin Engström, and Ingemar Engström
  • “The medical record as legal document: When can the patient dictate the content? An ethics case from the Department of Neurology” by Robert Accordino, et al.
  • “Longing to a fetal patient” Tutku Ozdogan, et al.

Event: Second Annual Disaster Ministry Workshop

April 11, 2014

Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College
Second Annual Disaster Ministry Workshop
Wheaton College Meyer Science Center
Wheaton, Illinois
June 10 – 12, 2014

See here for more information.

Event: Public Health Emergency Preparedness: A Free Workshop for Congregations and Faith-Based Organizations

April 11, 2014

The Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College, Cook County Department of Public Health, and the Chicago Department of Public Health
Oak Park Temple
Oak Park, Illinois
May 22, 2014 9AM to 4PM

See here to register.

A New Edition of Public Health Ethics is Available

April 11, 2014

Public Health Ethics (Volume 7, No. 1, April 2014) is now available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Do Social Networking Sites Enhance the Attractiveness of Risky Health Behavior? Impression Management in Adolescents’ Communication on Facebook and its Ethical Implications” by Julika Loss, Verena Lindacher, and Janina Curbach
  • “Parents’ and Children’s Perceptions of the Ethics of Marketing Energy-Dense Nutrient-Poor Foods on the Internet: Implications for Policy to Restrict Children’s Exposure” by K. P. Mehta, et al.
  • “Using Social Networking Sites for Communicable Disease Control: Innovative Contact Tracing or Breach of Confidentiality?” by Kate L. Mandeville, et al.
  • “Social Networking Sites as a Tool for Contact Tracing: Urge for Ethical Framework for Normative Guidance” by Mart L. Stein, et al.
  • “Beyond Individual Responsibility for Lifestyle: Granting a Fresh and Fair Start to the Regretful” by Sarah Vansteenkiste, Kurt Devooght, and Erik Schokkaert
  • “Recruiting and Educating Participants for Enrollment in HIV-Vaccine Research: Ethical Implications of the Results of an Empirical Investigation” by Sibusiso Sifunda, et al.
  • “Ethical Challenges in Implementation Research” by Ruth Macklin

Access to Good Food as Preventative Medicine

April 10, 2014

(The Atlantic) – According to an article this month in the American Journal of Medicine, my patient’s predicament is common: nearly one in three U.S. adults with a chronic disease has problems paying for food, medicine, or both. Researchers at Harvard and the University of California at San Francisco studied data from the 2011 U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s National Health Interview Survey.

Copper Can Block Growth of Rare Cancer

April 10, 2014

(The Telegraph) – A need for copper could be the Achilles’ heel of some cancers, scientists believe. It may allow them to be tackled with drugs used to block copper absorption in patients suffering from a rare disease. Cancers with a mutation in the BRAF gene need copper to promote their growth, according to research published in the journal Nature. They include melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer that kills more than 2,000 people in Britain each year.

The Medicare Data’s Pitfalls

April 10, 2014

(New York Times) – The release on Wednesday of Medicare payment data is getting mixed reviews from doctors. Many say they favor sharing information but worry that the data presented by Medicare omits important details and may mislead the public and paint an unfairly negative picture of individual doctors.

Scientists Try 3-D Printer to Build Human Heart

April 10, 2014

(Associated Press) – It may sound far-fetched, but scientists are attempting to build a human heart with a 3-D printer. Ultimately, the goal is to create a new heart for a patient with their own cells that could be transplanted. It is an ambitious project to first, make a heart and then get it to work in a patient, and it could be years – perhaps decades – before a 3-D printed heart would ever be put in a person. The technology, though, is not all that futuristic: Researchers have already used 3-D printers to make splints, valves and even a human ear.

Tamiflu: Millions Wasted on Flu Drug, Claims Major Report

April 10, 2014

(BBC) – Hundreds of millions of pounds may have been wasted on a drug for flu that works no better than paracetamol, a landmark analysis has said. The UK has spent £473m on Tamiflu, which is stockpiled by governments globally to prepare for flu pandemics. The Cochrane Collaboration claimed the drug did not prevent the spread of flu or reduce dangerous complications, and only slightly helped symptoms. The manufacturers Roche and other experts say the analysis is flawed.

A ‘Code Death’ for Dying Patients

April 10, 2014

(New York Times) – But in this age of technological wizardry, doctors have been taught that they must do everything possible to stave off death. We refuse to wait passively for a last breath, and instead pump air into dying bodies in our own ritual of life-prolongation. Like a midwife slapping life into a newborn baby, doctors now try to punch death out of a dying patient. There is neither acknowledgement of nor preparation for this vital existential moment, which arrives, often unexpected, always unaccepted, in a flurry of panicked activity and distress.

Italian Court Overturns Divisive Ban on Donor Eggs, Sperm

April 10, 2014

(Reuters) – Italy’s constitutional court overturned a ban on using donor sperm and eggs in fertility treatments on Wednesday, knocking down part of a divisive set of restrictions on assisted reproduction. The court said in a statement the ban breached the constitution, without going into further detail, and lawyers in the case said the ruling was effective immediately.

Ensuring Privacy in the Study of Pathogen Genetics

April 10, 2014

(The Lancet, by subscription only) – Rapid growth in the genetic sequencing of pathogens in recent years has led to the creation of large sequence databases. This aggregated sequence data can be very useful for tracking and predicting epidemics of infectious diseases. However, the balance between the potential public health benefit and the risk to personal privacy for individuals whose genetic data (personal or pathogen) are included in such work has been difficult to delineate, because neither the true benefit nor the actual risk to participants has been adequately defined.

Scientists Disagree on Responsible Research

April 10, 2014

(Nanotechnology Now) – Responsible research has been put firmly on the political agenda with, for instance, EU’s Horizon 2020 programme in which all research projects must show how they contribute responsibly to society. New research from the University of Copenhagen reveals that the scientists themselves place great emphasis on behaving responsibly; they just disagree on what social responsibility in science entails. Responsibility is, in other words, a matter of perspective.

Bone Marrow Stem Cells Show Promise in Stroke Treatment

April 10, 2014

(Medical Xpress) – Stem cells culled from bone marrow may prove beneficial in stroke recovery, scientists at UC Irvine’s Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center have learned. In an analysis of published research, neurologist Dr. Steven Cramer and biomedical engineer Weian Zhao identified 46 studies that examined the use of mesenchymal stromal cells – a type of multipotent adult stem cells mostly processed from bone marrow – in animal models of stroke. They found MSCs to be significantly better than control therapy in 44 of the studies.

Acid-Bath Stem Cell Scientist Apologizes and Appeals

April 9, 2014

(Nature) – Haruko Obokata, the Japanese scientist at the centre of a controversy over studies purporting to turn mature cells to stem cells simply by bathing them in acid or subjecting them to mechanical stress, today apologized for her errors in the work. Kicking off a press conference in Osaka amid a storm of snapping cameras and flanked by two lawyers, Obokata blamed her immaturity and her lack of awareness of research protocols for the errors that were found in her two high-profile papers on the studies, published in Nature in January (Note: Nature’s news and comment teams are editorially independent of its research editorial team). These included the use of a duplicated image.

Pain Relievers Tied to Heart Rhythm Disorder

April 9, 2014

(New York Times) – A new study found that the popular pain relievers known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or Nsaids, may increase the risk for the most common type of irregular heartbeat, atrial fibrillation. Dutch researchers followed 8,423 people, average age 69, with normal heart rhythm at the start of the study for an average of 13 years. Over the period, 857 developed atrial fibrillation.