(Reuters) – Scientists launched a global initiative on Friday to map out and describe every cell in the human body in a vast atlas that could transform researchers’ understanding of human development and disease. The atlas, which is likely to take more than a decade to complete, aims to chart the types and properties of all human cells across all tissues and organs and build a reference map of the healthy human body, the scientists said.
(Pew Charitable Trusts) – New federal rules requiring thousands of hospitals, doctors and dentists to provide free interpretation and translation services for people who don’t speak English aim to prevent tragedies like these, which were among those included in a study of interpretation-related malpractice cases in four states. The new rules, which apply to providers who receive Medicaid reimbursement or other federal funds, are expected to expand access to preventive care and reduce medical costs, at least in the long run. A language other than English is spoken at home in 21 percent of U.S. households.
(Kaiser Health News) – Hospitals are getting slammed by drug price hikes that often have nothing to do with improving patient health, a new report has found. Inpatient drug spending increased by 23.4 percent annually from 2013 to 2015, compared with 9.9 percent annual increases on retail drug spending during the same period, according to a new report by National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago, which was commissioned by the American Hospital Association and the Federation of American Hospitals. Spending was driven by increases in drug unit prices rather than an increase in the volume of drugs used, they found.
Health Officials Are Warning that Possibly Hundreds of Open-Heart Surgery Patients May Have Been Infected
(Associated Press) – Health officials are warning that small outbreaks of infections spread by contaminated operating room machinery during open-heart surgery could be more widespread than first thought. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention alerted doctors and hospitals on Thursday. The contamination has been tied to 28 cases in the U.S., including at least four who died. But officials think hundreds or thousands of other patients could have been infected.
(NPR) – Twelve years ago, a car wreck took away Nathan Copeland’s ability to control his hands or sense what his fingers were touching. A few months ago, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center gave Copeland a new way to reach out and feel the world around him. It’s a mind-controlled robotic arm that has pressure sensors in each fingertip that send signals directly to Copeland’s brain.
(BBC) – The race to make babies from three people is a major worry, duping couples and a dangerous experiment on mums and babies, warn scientists and ethicists. The UK, which pioneered the advanced form of IVF, was the first country to introduce laws to allow the creation of babies from three people. Yet the first baby was born in Mexico. And despite the technique being designed to eliminate disease, it has been used as an unproven fertility booster in Ukraine. Both countries have less fertility regulation than the UK.
(Reuters) – The Dutch government intends to draft a law that would legalize assisted suicide for people who feel they have “completed life,” but are not necessarily terminally ill, it said on Wednesday. The Netherlands was the first country to legalize euthanasia, in 2002, but only for patients who were considered to be suffering unbearable pain with no hope of a cure. In a letter to parliament, the health and justice ministers said details remain to be worked out but that people who “have a well-considered opinion that their life is complete, must, under strict and careful criteria, be allowed to finish that life in a manner dignified for them.”
(New York Times) – A doctor in Queens has been charged with manslaughter after one of his patients bled to death as a result of complications during an abortion he performed, prosecutors said. The doctor, Robert Rho, was arraigned on Tuesday before Judge Gregory L. Lasak of State Supreme Court in Queens after being indicted on one count of second-degree manslaughter in the death of the patient, Jamie Lee Morales, 30.
(Wired) – IT’S HARD TO think of a single technology that will shape our world more in the next 50 years than artificial intelligence. As machine learning enables our computers to teach themselves, a wealth of breakthroughs emerge, ranging from medical diagnostics to cars that drive themselves. A whole lot of worry emerges as well. Who controls this technology? Will it take over our jobs? Is it dangerous? President Obama was eager to address these concerns. The person he wanted to talk to most about them? Entrepreneur and MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito. So I sat down with them in the White House to sort through the hope, the hype, and the fear around AI. That and maybe just one quick question about Star Trek.
(NPR) – When doctors want to help untangle confusing and sometimes contradictory findings in the scientific literature, they often turn to specially crafted summary studies. These are considered the gold standard for evidence. But one of the leading advocates for this practice is now raising alarm about them, because they are increasingly being tainted by commercial interests. For many years, these studies — called meta-analyses and systematic reviews — seemed to solve a big problem. Doctors who had once relied on each other’s expert opinions to select the best treatments gradually turned to careful scientific studies instead.
Journal of Medical Ethics (vol. 42, no. 10, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “Should Non-Disclosures be Considered as Morally Equivalent to Lies Within the Doctor–Patient Relationship?” by Caitriona L Cox and Zoe Fritz
- “Is It Acceptable for Medical Professionals to Kiss Paediatric Patients?” by Yassar Abdullah S Alamri
- “It Started With a Kiss” by Nicola Kerruish and Lynley C Anderson
- “Predictive Genetic Testing for Neurodegenerative Conditions: How Should Conflicting Interests Within Families be Managed?” by Zornitza Stark, Jane Wallace, Lynn Gillam, Matthew Burgess, and Martin B Delatycki
- “Personal Utility Is Inherent to Direct-to-Consumer Genomic Testing” by Matthew Wai Heng Chung and Joseph Chi Fung Ng
- “Individual Responsibility as Ground for Priority Setting in Shared Decision-Making” by Lars Sandman, Erik Gustavsson, and Christian Munthe
- “A Case Report of Embryo Donation: Ethical and Clinical Implications for Psychologists” by Marianne Rizk and Stacey Pawlak
(Scientific American) – The event involved more than 60 teams formed by research institutions and companies competing in six assistive technology categories: brain-computer interface (a device that connects the brain to a computer), functional electrical stimulation bike (a bicycle powered by electrical stimulation of the muscles), arm prosthesis, leg prosthesis, exoskeleton (a powered robotic suit) and wheelchair. Disabled individuals, or “pilots,” from the different teams faced off on courses designed to test how the assistive devices perform on everyday tasks.
(UPI) – Medicare pays some U.S. hospitals two to three times more than others to care for older adults who experience complications after major surgery, a new analysis finds. Those higher payments aren’t always associated with better clinical care, the study authors said. The findings suggest that some hospitals deal with surgical complications, such as serious bleeding, infection and kidney failure, more efficiently than others, the authors noted.
(Los Angeles Times) – It’s the most prominent example of how public and private insurers are spending millions of dollars on “big data” — using advanced technology to predict people’s future healthcare needs based on their interactions with doctors, hospitals and pharmacies, as well as information gleaned from other sources, such as social media. Such systems, known as predictive analytics, aim to make healthcare more efficient and effective by opening the door to addressing medical issues before they become serious problems.
(Nanowerk) – Physicists at The University of Texas at Arlington have shown that using microwaves to activate photosensitive nanoparticles produces tissue-heating effects that ultimately lead to cell death within solid tumors. “Our new method using microwaves can propagate through all types of tissues and target deeply situated tumors,” said Wei Chen, UTA professor of physics and lead author of the study published this month in he Journal of Biomedical Nanotechnology.
(NPR) – The ballot initiative is drawing passion — and plenty of money. According to the latest filings with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, backers have raised about $5.3 million, mostly from Compassion & Choices Action Network. The “No Assisted Suicide Colorado” campaign has raised $1.8 million. That money is primarily coming from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Denver, which has donated $1.1 million, as well as other archdioceses around the country.
(Eurekalert) – Stem cells hold great promise for transforming medical care related to a diverse range of conditions, but the cells often lose some of their therapeutic potential when scientists try to grow and expand them in the laboratory. A new study, however, provides insights on the cellular mechanisms that might be targeted to help certain stem cells–called human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs)–maintain properties needed to make them clinically useful.
(New Scientist) – The first babies to be created using a “three-parent” method to overcome their parents’ infertility are due to be born in early 2017. New Scientist has learned that two women in Ukraine are both more than 20 weeks pregnant with fetuses created using such a technique. The babies would be the first born to women who had the procedure to treat infertility, rather than to prevent hereditary disease, but some have criticised this approach, calling for it to be banned until there is more evidence that the embryos it creates are healthy.
Research Ethics (vol. 12, no. 4, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “Institutional Review Boards: A Flawed System of Risk Management” by Simon N Whitney
- “The Importance of Virtue Ethics in the IRB” by Marilyn C Morris and Jason Z Morris
- “Variation in University Research Ethics Review: Reflections Following an Inter-University Study in England” by Claudia Vadeboncoeur, Nick Townsend, Charlie Foster, and Mark Sheehan
- “When is a REC Not a REC? When it is a Gatekeeper” by Nathan Emmerich
Bioethics (vol. 30, no. 8, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “Integrated But Not Whole? Applying an Ontological Account of Human Organismal Unity to the Brain Death Debate” by Melissa Moschella
- “Adversaries at the Bedside: Advance Care Plans and Future Welfare” by Aidan Kestigian and Alex John London
- “Should we use Commitment Contracts to Regulate Student use of Cognitive Enhancing Drugs?” by John Danaher
- “Intermediate Moral Respect and Proportionality Reasoning” by Thomas Finegan
- “Medical Need, Equality, and Uncertainty” by L. Chad Horne
- “Incentivizing Patient Choices: The Ethics of Inclusive Shared Savings” by Richard Yetter Chappell
- “The Meta-Nudge – A Response to the Claim That the Use of Nudges During the Informed Consent Process is Unavoidable” by Scott D. Gelfand
- “Do We Know Whether Researchers and Reviewers are Estimating Risk and Benefit Accurately?” by Spencer Phillips Hey and Jonathan Kimmelman
- “Sperm, Clinics, and Parenthood” by Reuven Brandt
- “What can we Learn from Patients’ Ethical Thinking about the right ‘not to know’ in Genomics? Lessons from Cancer Genetic Testing for Genetic Counselling” by Lorraine Cowley
- “The use of Ethics Decision-Making Frameworks by Canadian Ethics Consultants: A Qualitative Study” by Chris Kaposy, Fern Brunger, Victor Maddalena and Richard Singleton