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Disabled Rights Advocates Fight Assisted Suicide Legislation

June 29, 2015

(USA Today) – More than two decades after breaking his back, Orefice, 40, is married, has a 7-year-old son and owns a medical supply business. He also counsels patients newly disabled from spinal cord injuries. “Depression,” he often tells them, “is part of the healing process.” As California legislators consider a bill that would allow terminally ill patients to get prescriptions to end their lives, disability rights advocates are speaking up in opposition. They worry that if it becomes law, depression and incorrect prognoses may lead people with serious disabilities to end their lives prematurely.

Social Media Can Open the Door to Organ Donations. But Are We Bypassing Those Most in Need?

June 29, 2015

(The Globe and Mail) – In late April, seven-month-old Delfina Budziak moved into Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children to wait for a donation to replace her failing liver. Less than three weeks later, her father, Peter Budziak, heard from a co-worker that Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk needed a liver, too. A public appeal made on Melnyk’s behalf, at a news conference and shared on his hockey team’s widely followed Facebook and Twitter accounts, attracted more than 500 people willing to offer up part of their livers.

Watson’s Next Feat? Taking on Cancer

June 29, 2015

(Washington Post) – IBM is now training Watson to be a cancer specialist. The idea is to use Watson’s increasingly sophisticated artificial intelligence to find personalized treatments for every cancer patient by comparing disease and treatment histories, genetic data, scans and symptoms against the vast universe of medical knowledge. Such precision targeting is possible to a limited extent, but it can take weeks of dedicated sleuthing by a team of researchers. Watson would be able to make this type of treatment recommendation in mere minutes.

Are You at Risk of Cancer? Anne Wojcicki’s Controversial Home DNA Testing Kit Will Tell You

June 29, 2015

(The Telegraph) – Anne Wojcicki, the founder and CEO of the genetic-testing company 23andMe, is at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History to speak at the annual Personalized Medicine World Conference about genetics and the revolution that she feels her company has begun. ‘I think your genetics are going to be a blueprint of your health,’ she tells me. ‘My dream is that one day you’ll know what type of diet is right for you; or if, like Angelina Jolie, you’re at a higher risk of breast cancer, you could potentially have a double mastectomy. I think there’s no better opportunity to have a positive impact on someone’s life.’

German and US Researchers Read Brainwaves

June 29, 2015

(SBS) – Scientists have found a way to read the mind, analysing brain waves and interpreting them as words and even complete sentences of continuous speech without having to listen. The “reading” was done by way of electrodes fixed on the surface of the cerebral cortex, researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT) in Germany and the Wadsworth Center in the United States said.

Belgian Doctors Give Healthy Woman, 24, Green Light to Die by Euthanasia Because of ‘Suicidal Thoughts’

June 29, 2015

(Daily Mail) – Belgian doctors are planning to kill a perfectly healthy 24-year-old woman by euthanasia because she is suffering from ‘suicidal thoughts’. It is estimated that five people a day in Belgium die with the assistance of doctors, ranging from those with terminal illness to others with chronic, but not life threatening ailments. Now, a woman, known only as the fictitious name Laura, has been told she qualifies for euthanasia, despite not having a terminal disease.

Medical Tourism in Thailand: When Treatment Costs and Starbucks Clash

June 29, 2015

(Medical Tourism Magazine) – The National Legislative Assembly backed those claims, concluding in a report that private hospitals charged upward of four times the cost of similar procedures at public facilities including those for acute coronary thrombosis, and appendix, knee joint, and cataract surgeries as well as treatments for colds. Throwing further fuel on the fire, the survey went on to claim that private hospitals where Starbucks could be purchased charged almost three times more for treatment than at healthcare facilities from which the U.S.-based coffee chain did not do business.

The Right to Die

June 29, 2015

(The Economist) – IT IS easy to forget that adultery was a crime in Spain until 1978; or that in America, where gay marriage is allowed by 37 states and may soon be extended to all others by the Supreme Court, the last anti-sodomy law was struck down only in 2003. Yet, although most Western governments no longer try to dictate how consenting adults have sex, the state still stands in the way of their choices about death. An increasing number of people—and this newspaper—believe that is wrong.

The Science of Human Cloning: How Far We’ve Come And How Far We’re Capable of Going

June 29, 2015

(Medical Daily) – While the ethics and legality of human cloning are blurry, the science behind the idea is quite clear, with all research suggesting the practice is possible. Scientists have already cloned human embryos and many believe creating fully developed humans is the next step. But while novels such as A Brave New World and Cloud Atlas depict human cloning as systematic and as easy as a car part assembly line, in reality the process is a bit more complex.

United Nations Called Upon to Act on China Organ Trafficking

June 29, 2015

(The Epoch Times) – A group of doctors, lawyers, and international activists met in the Palais des Nations, the headquarters of the U.N., to review what they said was mass murder carried out by the Chinese regime, and called upon the U.N. to open a full investigation of the matter. The call comes six months after Chinese authorities said they would cease all use of organs from death row prisoners—a move that these researchers consider an attempt to sweep the greater crime, mass organ harvesting of prisoners of conscience, under the rug.

A New Edition of JAMA Internal Medicine is Available

June 29, 2015

JAMA Internal Medicine (vol. 175, no. 6, 2015) is available online by subscription only. Articles include:

  • “When documentation supersedes patient communication: An example from an endoscopy unit” by Udayan K. Shah and Carol DiMura
  • “Personomics” by Roy C. Ziegelstein
  • “The role of states in improving price transparency in health care” by Anna D. Sinaiko, Alyna T. Chien, and Meredith B. Rosenthal

Anesthesiologist Trashes Sedated Patient – And It Ends Up Costing Her

June 26, 2015

(Washington Post) – Sitting in his surgical gown inside a large medical suite in Reston, Va., a Vienna man prepared for his colonoscopy by pressing record on his smartphone, to capture the instructions his doctor would give him after the procedure. But as soon as he pressed play on his way home, he was shocked out of his anesthesia-induced stupor: He found that he had recorded the entire examination and that the surgical team had mocked and insulted him as soon as he drifted off to sleep.

Rapid Ebola Diagnostic Successful in Field Trial

June 26, 2015

(Science Daily) – A new test can accurately diagnose Ebola virus disease within minutes, providing clinicians with crucial information for treating patients and containing outbreaks. Researchers from Harvard Medical School, Partners In Health and Boston Children’s Hospital have shown that a new commercially developed rapid diagnostic test performed at bedside was as sensitive as the conventional laboratory-based method used for clinical testing during the recent outbreak in Sierra Leone. The results are published in The Lancet.

Pakistan Heat Wave Eases After More than 1,150 Die

June 26, 2015

(Scientific American) – Sea breezes brought lower temperatures on Friday to ease a heat wave that killed more than 1,150 people around Pakistan’s teeming port city of Karachi during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. Mass funerals were held for 50 unidentified victims on Friday before their bodies were hastily buried.

3-D Heart Printed Using Multiple Imaging Techniques

June 26, 2015

(Science Daily) – Congenital heart experts from Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital have successfully integrated two common imaging techniques to produce a three-dimensional anatomic model of a patient’s heart. The 3D model printing of patients’ hearts has become more common in recent years as part of an emerging, experimental field devoted to enhanced visualization of individual cardiac structures and characteristics.

US Congress Moves to Block Human-Embryo Editing

June 26, 2015

(Nature) – The US House of Representatives is wading into the debate over whether human embryos should be modified to introduce heritable changes. Its fiscal year 2016 spending bill for the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would prohibit the agency from spending money to evaluate research or clinical applications for such products. In an unusual twist, the bill — introduced on 17 June — would also direct the FDA to create a committee that includes religious experts to review a forthcoming report from the US Institute of Medicine (IOM).

More Challenges to Obama Healthcare Law Percolating

June 26, 2015

(Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday upheld tax subsidies crucial to President Barack Obama’s healthcare law, but several other challenges to the 2010 statute are making their way up through the courts. Here is a look at some of the major cases and the grounds on which they have been brought.

Discovery Targets Dormant Bowel Cancer Cells Before They Form Secondary Tumours

June 26, 2015

(Medical Xpress) – An international research team, led by the University of Melbourne, have discovered a way to control the stem cell behaviour responsible for the spread of bowel cancer. The discovery will lead to treatments that target dormant cells, a major shift from conventional therapies that hit the growing cancer cells only.

What Hospice Care Means for Bobbi Kristina Brown

June 26, 2015

(ET Online) – Nearly five months after Bobbi Kristina Brown was found unconscious and unresponsive in a bathtub, her family announced on Wednesday the decision to move her from an Atlanta rehab hospital into hospice care.  “Despite the great medical care at numerous facilities, Bobbi Kristina Brown’s condition has continued to deteriorate,” Pat Houston told ET in a statement Wednesday. “As of today, she has been moved into hospice care. We thank everyone for their support and prayers. She is in God’s hands now.”

Researchers Develop a New Means of Killing Harmful Bacteria

June 26, 2015

(MIT News) – The global rise in antibiotic resistance is a growing threat to public health, damaging our ability to fight deadly infections such as tuberculosis. What’s more, efforts to develop new antibiotics are not keeping pace with this growth in microbial resistance, resulting in a pressing need for new approaches to tackle bacterial infection. In a paper published online in the journal Nano Letters, researchers at MIT, the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and Harvard University reveal that they have developed a new means of killing harmful bacteria.

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